Martin Beeson’s run for re-election as the head prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District was controversial before the first ballot was cast.
Beeson, a Republican, was seeking what some felt was an unconstitutional third term in office after he won a partial term in 2005 in a recall election of his predecessor. He was elected again in an unopposed election in 2008 and served four years. And Beeson maintained that his first term should not count against the two-term limit the state imposes on district attorneys because he didn’t serve a full four years.
Some defense lawyers said that, theoretically, they would challenge in court the constitutionality of Beeson and his deputies prosecuting cases were he to be re-elected.
But it never came to that because longtime Glenwood Springs defense attorney and Democratic challenger Sherry Caloia nearly matched Beeson in votes in GOP-laden Garfield County, and dominated Pitkin County — which was enough to withstand Beeson’s win in the 9th Judicial District’s other county, Rio Blanco.
Caloia ended up winning by 192 votes out of some 35,000 cast.
Caloia, who also is a municipal prosecutor for the towns of Basalt and Carbondale, will be sworn in Jan. 8. She ran on a platform that was heavily critical of Beeson’s handling of his office, lambasting his choices of which cases to prosecute.
She and other defense attorneys in the valley contended that Beeson disregarded due process, the disclosure of evidence to the defense and defendants’ presumption of innocence.
Caloia said neither of Aspen’s prosecutors were the right fit for the community, and she is not retaining them.
Beeson on Nov. 26 said he would seek a recount in the tight race, but abandoned the notion a few days later.
“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,” Beeson wrote in an email to reporters in early December.
Caloia summed up the feelings of many after the election: “I’m surprised.”