Newly-elected district attorney Sherry Caloia said Wednesday that she will follow through with her vow to fire Aspen’s prosecutors, who she said during the campaign are not “well-placed.”
Caloia unseated incumbent Martin Beeson, according to the final results from the Nov. 6 election that were released on Tuesday.
Beeson, though, apparently has not ruled out a request for a recount, a step that he would have to pay for.
“I want to let you all know that I will be spending the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with my family, and together we will decide upon our future,” Beeson wrote in an email to reporters.
“I will have an update for you no later than Monday.”
Caloia said Wednesday that she has not changed her mind on dismissing Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin, who handles Pitkin County felony- and juvenile-level cases, as well as Pitkin County prosecutor Richard Nedlin, who handles misdemeanor and traffic cases.
During the campaign, she decried how some cases were handled, particularly the prosecution of three valley men, including a Pitkin County building official and a former city of Aspen inspector, for the 2008 deaths of a Denver family who died from carbon-monoxide poisoning in a home near Aspen.
The felony and misdemeanor cases were eventually dismissed for statute-of-limitations issues because of mistakes that were made involving the dates on the indictments. Caloia called the errors inexcusable.
“If I had to keep all of the same people employed who are there now, there’d be a lot of problems,” Caloia said Wednesday from Kansas City, where she was visiting relatives for the holiday. “Getting a job like this gives you the opportunity to staff the best people for the job.
“Keeping people on who are not in tune with what we’re trying to do is not the best idea.”
Mordkin could not be reached for comment. Nedlin said Wednesday that he hasn’t given much thought to the future.
“My thoughts are really with Martin because he’s done nothing but support me 100 percent through my time here,” he said. “That’s something I’ll never forget and always cherish.
“He’s not only my boss but he’s also a good human being.”
Whether or not Beeson decides to pursue a recount, the heads of upper-valley law enforcement agencies on Wednesday said they are ready to welcome Caloia as their crime-fighting partner.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, who took over in 2011, and Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor, in office since 2007, have only worked with Beeson and his deputies.
DiSalvo said he has only met Caloia once and that he looks forward to sitting down with her to discuss public safety and prosecutorial philosophies.
“I do not know a lot about her,” he said. “I only know about her future plans for the office from what I’ve read in the papers, so I don’t really know what to expect.”
While he said his office had no problems with Beeson during the lead prosecutor’s seven years in office, “the voters spoke pretty loudly,” DiSalvo said, regarding 66 percent of Pitkin County voters electing Caloia.
He called Mordkin and Nedlin fine attorneys who have done a good job, though he said he’s also ready to tackle the transition from Beeson to Caloia, who will be sworn in in January.
“Hopefully this all works out for the people who use the system,” he said. “The end user is going to be the judge of how this is working.”
And Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said in a prepared statement that his department looks forward to working with the Caloia, “while recognizing that a slight learning curve is expected.”
He said he and his officers will assist “the district attorney’s office in any way possible to ensure the transition goes smoothly.”