Incumbent District Attorney Martin Beeson on Friday evening conceded the Nov. 6 election to Glenwood Springs defense attorney Sherry Caloia.
It was a reversal for Beeson, who said in previous days that he was seeking a recount after he lost by 192 votes out of some 35,000 cast in the 9th Judicial District, comprised of Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.
“I would like to express my congratulations to District Attorney-elect Sherry Caloia in her victory in the recent general election,” Beeson wrote in an email to reporters. “It is my hope that all will give District Attorney-elect Caloia the support she will need to carry out the solemn duties that lie before her as the chief advocate for those in our communities who have been, and sadly will become, victims of crime.
“It is for these we toil and give our best efforts, our hearts and our tears as prosecutors.”
Caloia said she was not surprised by Beeson’s decision, given that the recount cost across the three counties was expected to exceed $11,000. Her margin of victory was just outside the 0.5 percent margin within which the state requires a taxpayer-funded recount.
“I just thought it was a lot of money to pay for something that was unlikely to produce a different result,” she said.
Caloia was returning from Colorado Springs, where she attended “DA school,” as the seminars hosted by the Colorado District Attorney’s Council to help prep newly elected district attorneys are known.
“I think he made the right decision,” she said. “$12,000 for a recount is a lot of money.”
During an at-times bitter campaign, Beeson said he should be re-elected because he righted an office that was in chaos in 2005, when he took over for the recalled Colleen Truden.
Beeson, a Republican, had also argued that he was tough on crime, touting the hundreds of years in prison that criminals had received after being prosecuted by his office.
He drew widespread criticism in 2010, however, when he said that public defense attorneys, who represent low-income clients, “are not serving the public good. They are taxpayer-funded attorneys for criminals.”
Caloia, a Democrat, criticized Beeson’s judicial philosophy, disagreeing with many of his prosecutions and how they were handled. She was particularly critical of the prosecution by Beeson’s office of three local men, including a Pitkin County building official and a former city of Aspen building 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 grand jury indictments. Caloia called the errors by Aspen prosecutor Arnold Mordkin inexcusable and vowed to fire him and Aspen Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin, saying they were not “well-placed.”
In the election, Caloia dominated Pitkin County by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. In Republican-leaning Garfield County, Caloia garnered nearly 11,000 votes, or 47 percent, while Beeson easily won Rio Blanco County, 2,310 to 800 votes, or 74 to 26 percent.
“This time is Sherry Caloia’s, and our focus should be on her assumption of the leadership responsibilities of the Office of the District Attorney in 2013,” Beeson wrote Friday.
Caloia, who is to be sworn in in January, said she had not heard from Beeson but wished him good luck.