Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Craig Up against an April 9 deadline, a committee attempting to oust 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink has begun its final push to acquire necessary petition signatures.
Craig resident Kathy Oberwitte, who began the recall process after a disagreement arose with Roesink in January regarding a criminal case, said 80 people circulating the petition began going door to door Monday in Moffat and Routt counties.
"This is our last push, kind of like 'The heat is on' campaign," Oberwitte said. "I'm optimistic we'll get the signatures, let's put it that way."
She said the final charge also would include circulating the petition at community events, as well as advertising on the radio and in the newspaper.
According to the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, Oberwitte and her circulators have 60 days to acquire 3,802 signatures, or 25 percent of the votes cast for Roesink in her unopposed 2004 election victory.
Oberwitte said she didn't know exactly how many signatures the committee has obtained thus far, but that the number is more than 2,000. Her goal is 6,000 signatures.
"We got started and there was a huge push," Oberwitte said of the recall effort that began in February. "Then we were idle for a while. Now there is a big push again."
Meanwhile, Roesink has remained relatively quiet in public about the recall process. She has denied all allegations raised in the petition, and many of her colleagues have voiced support for Roesink.
On Tuesday afternoon, Roesink said she was considering whether to actively campaign against the recall petition, and that area law enforcement officers and district attorneys have vowed to write letters of support on her behalf.
Roesink also said she wanted to remain district attorney.
"Yes, at this point I still want to keep my job," she said.
Oberwitte's recall petition stems from her disagreement with Roesink regarding the handling of a case about her brother, the late Michael Bailey, of Craig. Bailey died in February 2006 in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 40.
Oberwitte lobbied Roesink to file harsher criminal charges against the second driver in the crash, Morrison resident Dustin Lund, who was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine. After researching the case, Roesink concluded that evidence in the case had been tainted and that admissible evidence warranted a misdemeanor charge.
Lund, who is charged with careless driving resulting in death, is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court at 2 p.m. today for a disposition hearing.
The recall 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," among other complaints.
It also states Roesink has "lost the confidence of the public, law enforcement and others in the criminal justice system."
If the recall petition is validated, a special election date would be scheduled. That election would include two questions, said Jonathan Tee, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office.
"You're really conducting two elections in one ballot," Tee said. "Should (Roesink) be recalled, and if so, vote for who should replace her."
Candidates vying to replace the district attorney would get their names on the ballot through the normal process - circulating a petition and acquiring signatures of registered voters.