Truden recall clears hurdle
A recall petition against District Attorney Colleen Truden is sufficient, according to Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis.What happens next is up to Truden, who has until Oct. 14 to protest the petition, which would trigger a hearing.The district attorney said Thursday she is evaluating that option, but she had not made a decision. Challenging a petition typically means protesting an alleged flaw in the collection of the signatures or in the signatures themselves.Truden on Thursday called the recall effort “petty partisan politics” and expressed confidence that she would prevail if the attempt to remove her from office moves forward to an election.”I’m fully confident that the voters are going to know, when they hear the truth and the facts, of what we’ve managed to do with this office and how we’ve improved it,” she said. “For example, felony convictions are up 13 percent and, oddly, we’ve increased the level of professionalism here.””The way I look at it, that’s the same confidence she felt in us not getting the requisite number of signatures,” said Martin Beeson, a former deputy district attorney under Truden and one of the recall organizers. “I suspect that deep inside, she knows what’s coming down the pike.”The recall petition accuses Truden of mismanagement, dishonesty, wasting taxpayer dollars and failing to prosecute cases, among other transgressions.Her opponents submitted a petition containing 9,032 signatures, though only 5,455 were necessary to put a recall on the ballot.The secretary of state’s office announced Thursday it rejected 2,406 signatures and verified the remaining 6,626 as valid signatures from registered voters in Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.The three counties make up the 9th Judicial District, for which Truden was elected district attorney in November 2004.Beeson said he had mixed feelings Thursday upon learning the petition would stand.”I think it’s a sad day for the district; it’s also a day of hope,” he said, accusing Truden of mismanagement, dishonesty and wasteful spending, and calling for the return of integrity to the office.”Things are going to get better for the district – that is my fervent hope,” said Beeson, who has stepped forward as a candidate for the post in the event Truden is recalled. Chip McCrory, a former assistant district attorney in the 9th Judicial District, has also declared his candidacy.If Truden challenges the petition, a hearing on the protest will be scheduled within five to 10 days from the date the secretary of state’s office mails the hearing notice. Then, if the petition survives the protest, the governor must set an election within 45 to 75 days. It’s possible a recall election, if one is held, won’t take place until early 2006.But if Truden chooses not to protest the petition, the recall can proceed directly to an election.Truden has been at the center of controversy since last April, when three deputy district attorneys resigned, citing philosophical differences with her management style. Since then, several other deputy district attorneys have also resigned, along with other staffers.She has also faced scrutiny for the handling of her office’s finances, the hiring of her husband, Fred, to do work in the office, and the veracity of statements she made to county commissioners.”From the start, this has been a petty, partisan attack on our office,” Truden said Thursday. “We’re going to look forward to informing people of the truth and the opportunity for them to understand what we’ve really been doing.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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