Voters oust Truden
December 13, 2005
Colleen Truden became the first district attorney in Colorado history to be recalled from office Tuesday as 9th Judicial District voters overwhelmingly rejected her.Residents voted by a margin of more than 4-to-1 in favor of the recall. A total of 6,734 people in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties voted to oust Truden, while 1,678 wanted to keep her, according to unofficial results.Martin Beeson, the candidate who fought a six-month campaign to set the recall election and get his name on the ballot, was elected to succeed his former boss.
“I’m humbled,” said Beeson, who garnered 3,999 votes. “This is not a victory for me, this is a victory for this district. The nightmare is hopefully over tonight. It’s a victory of moral certitude over politics.”Truden, a former municipal court judge who never prosecuted a case before or since taking office, lost overwhelmingly in Pitkin and Garfield counties, the judicial district’s two pivotal counties. While voter turnout was light, owing to the snowy weather, disinterest or both, the message voters sent was not.”I voted to recall her. I think she’s a crackpot,” said David Cox of Carbondale. He wrote in Chip McCrory’s name.McCrory was a self-admitted longshot. The former assistant district attorney and current defense lawyer came up short on petitions to get his name onto the ballot, so he settled for a write-in campaign. In Pitkin County, he lost to Beeson by just nine votes, 926-917. McCrory received 2,297 total votes.
The recall election was perhaps one of the most lopsided in Pitkin County history: 2,039 people voted in favor of the recall, 112 voted against it.Perhaps equally surprising was the result in Republican-heavy Garfield County. Truden, a Republican, had garnered key support in the county when she effectively won office in the August 2004 primary election. But both her opponents were also Republicans. On Tuesday, Garfield County voted 4,526 to 1,288 in favor of the recall. A majority of voters did not support the recall in Rio Blanco County, but fewer than 500 people turned out to vote. Of the 447 total voters, 278 were against it and 169 thought she should be deposed with all precincts reporting.
Messages left on Truden’s cell phone and at her office and home were not returned Tuesday night.The deadline for county clerks to submit their results to the Colorado secretary of state’s office is Jan. 3. The delay allows elections officials to tally any straggling absentee or provisional ballots. The state office will certify results by Jan. 6, said spokeswoman Dana Williams.Beeson will take office soon after that, almost exactly a year after Truden’s first day, on Jan. 11.Gail Nichols, a former deputy district attorney under Truden, said it’s been difficult having Truden as top prosecutor. She was one of two deputies escorted out of the office immediately after resigning this spring.
“I thought it was ridiculous that she didn’t acknowledge she had made some misstatements. She just didn’t seem to realize that you can’t do that,” Nichols said. “She lied about her husband [and] she had every right to hire him. It wasn’t a smart move, but why lie?”Beeson’s biggest challenge will be getting everyone in the office comfortable again and getting it running smoothly, she said.”It’s going to be a hard transition,” Nichols said. “I understand things are very, very messy: Files aren’t being maintained.”
She confirmed that she has discussed rejoining the staff with Beeson.McCrory said Beeson has a lot of work to do.”Nobody knows what’s going on with the budget,” said McCrory, drinking a beer after a hockey game at the Aspen Ice Garden. “Who knows what kind of mess is there.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org