Truden critics gather names for recall | AspenTimes.com

Truden critics gather names for recall

Naomi Havlen

Audrey Podl, right, and Shawn and Carrie Haberern sign Truden recall petitions Saturday at Herron Park.Mark Fox/The Aspen Times

The effort to recall District Attorney Colleen Truden gathered signatures and momentum Saturday at an event in Herron Park.Aspen resident Carla Peltonen organized the event to solicit support for a recall petition, getting help from former deputy district attorneys Martin Beeson and Tony Hershey.Hershey, who resigned from Truden’s office last week found himself soliciting signatures for the petition at the Aspen Saturday Market.”It’s weird,” Hershey said. “I was the most loyal trooper, and I respected and liked her when I started [working for Truden]. I got up every day ready to do justice – I know that sounds corny but I wanted to work hard for her to do a good job.

“I don’t know what happened. She treated me badly, she ran through her budget like a drunken sailor, and it’s time for her to go.”Hershey said a number of residents approached him and asked questions about his experience with Truden. He was able to collect 20 signatures easily within an hour.Hershey said he also stopped by Herron Park to visit with Beeson and Peltonen, where “people were tripping over themselves to sign this thing.” He also said many people who approached him said they were sorry he is currently out of work, but they expressed appreciation that he left Truden’s office.Six deputy district attorneys have resigned since Truden took office in January. Sherry Caloia, a Glenwood Springs attorney and town prosecutor in Basalt and Carbondale, filed the recall petition that lists six allegations against the district attorney, including dishonesty, lack of prosecutions and mismanagement.Organizers must gather 5,665 signatures from the 9th Judicial District, which includes Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. The signatures must be delivered to the secretary of state’s office by Sept. 16.

Children played in the water along the banks of the Roaring Fork River at Herron Park on Saturday afternoon, while a number of adults with car keys or dog leashes in hand walked over to the card table to sign the petition.”I don’t trust what’s going on down there,” Aspen resident Dave Lyons said. “Having that many people leave her office says something about the state of the office. If it was all peaches and cream, nobody would leave.”Lyons said he knew the petitions would be in Herron Park on Saturday, so he came over just to sign, as did a number of people on Saturday afternoon.Peltonen said former deputy district attorney Gail Nichols, who resigned this spring, is a good friend of hers.”She loved her job and agonized over the decision to leave the office,” Peltonen said. “It was really hard for her to give this up, and I knew from that that this was a worthy cause.”

Peltonen has been taking petitions with her wherever she goes, asking people she recognizes as registered voters to sign. Most people she approaches say, “Oh, I’ve been looking for one to sign,” she said. “People are just rarin’ to sign – they’ve asked me where the petitions have been, so we tried to get the word out.”She estimated that between noon and 2 p.m. they collected around 70 signatures. Beeson, who has expressed interest in being the next district attorney, stood along the sidewalk to talk to people signing the petition.”The Aspen crowd seems well informed, like they’ll make an informed decision,” he said, adding that he’s not talking to people about his candidacy. “I tell people that what we have now is an appalling embarrassment – a mistake that we’re all responsible for as voters.”Beeson said he didn’t vote for Truden, but he’s proud to be part of a process where Americans have the ability to take power away from an elected official. Signatures were also gathered at Silt’s “Hey Days” festival on Saturday, and Beeson said he’ll be attending upcoming festivals in New Castle, Parachute and Meeker.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com

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