Our View: D.A. recall isn’t warranted
At Issue: Effort to recall district attorney
The effort to recall District Attorney Bonnie Roesink is misguided and could cost taxpayers thousands unnecessarily. We urge residents not to sign the recall petitions.
Craig resident Kathy Oberwitte initiated the recall effort in January. She claims to have secured more than 2,000 signatures on her recall petition. She needs 3,800 to force a recall.
Oberwitte had a disagreement with Roesink regarding a case involving Oberwitte’s late brother, Michael Bailey of Craig. Bailey was killed in a February 2006 two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40, about a mile east of Hayden.
A vehicle driven by Morrison resident Dustin Lund collided with Bailey’s vehicle. Roesink charged Lund with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor. Oberwitte and her family lobbied Roesink to file a more serious charge – vehicular homicide.
A blood test showed that Lund had methamphetamine in his system when the accident occurred. Problem is, the Colorado State Patrol did not properly gain consent before drawing the blood. In a letter dated March 23, Col. Mark Trostel of the State Patrol wrote, “I agree that the blood draw revealing the presence of methamphetamine would not stand a legal challenge for admissibility before the court and a jury.”
Roesink considered the family’s request for a stiffer charge, but in January, she announced that the original charge against Lund was the correct judgment. In reality, Roesink had no other option.
Oberwitte, who started the recall petition on Jan. 18, has since said the recall is about more than her late brother’s case. Her petition alleges the district attorney has been the cause of “unprecedented” employee turnover, directed an office that lacks consistent prosecution and has allowed the plea-bargaining of “serious felony cases.”
Such general criticism can provide Roesink with feedback that can help her improve her office, but it falls well short of what should be the threshold for a recall.
In 2004, the people of the 14th Judicial District chose Roesink as their district attorney for a four-year term. Subverting the people’s choice through recall is a serious step that should be reserved as an option of last resort. Roesink has done nothing that warrants triggering that option.
Estimates are a recall could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000, and we are aware of no candidate willing to take Roesink’s place.
If her performance as district attorney has not lived up to expectations, the voters can make a different choice 18 months from now, in the 2008 election. But initiating a recall would be an awful waste of the taxpayers’ time and money and an unfair disservice to Roesink. Don’t sign the petition.
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Emma Harmon, of Durango, is pictured with journals she has kept about her mental health challenges. She said Axis Health System would not help her when in crisis. “The way things seem to work there, you’d actually have to have killed yourself before they’d meet with you.” | Jerry McBride/Durango Herald