Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham won a close race Tuesday for District Attorney of the 14th Judicial District, despite losing Routt County to opponent Tammy Stewart.
The Democratic Stewart carried 59 percent of the vote in Routt County, but she fell short across the three-county district. The Republican Oldham strongly carried Moffat County with 67 percent of the vote and held a strong lead in Grand County, where she was favored by 61 percent of early and mail-in voters.
Election Day returns from Grand County were unavailable at press time early this morning. But Stewart trailed Oldham by 990 votes, a margin that would be extremely difficult to overcome given Grand County's voting history and registration numbers.
"I'm really honored by the position, and excited about it," said Oldham, who gathered with supporters in Granby on Tuesday night. "I'm really looking forward to bringing positive change to the DA's Office and the community."
Oldham, 37, has served as assistant district attorney of the 14th Judicial District since May. She has seven years of experience as a prosecutor in Grand and Summit counties, and lives in Grand Lake with her husband.
Oldham's candidacy was backed by current District Attorney Bonnie Roesink, also a Republican, who is retiring at the end of her term after 21 years as a prosecutor in the 14th Judicial District.
Routt County voters broke decisively for Stewart, an ardent critic of Roesink's administration. Stewart made it clear Tuesday night that Oldham's lead elsewhere did not come as a surprise.
"It all hinges on how many people voted (Tuesday) in Routt County," Stewart said while awaiting election returns with family members and fellow Democrats at Big House Burgers in Steamboat Springs.
Stewart did not return calls for comment later Tuesday night, as incoming returns indicated her campaign was headed to a narrow loss.
Stewart has blamed high turnover in the 14th Judicial District on the lack of discretion prosecutors are allowed in handling their cases. Oldham also has acknowledged a problem with "micromanagement" under the current leadership and promised to ease it.
Stewart, 45, is an assistant Moffat County attorney, prosecuting child abuse cases. She also operates a private practice in Steamboat Springs, where she lives with her husband and two children.
During the campaign, Stewart and Oldham focused on improving public confidence in the District Attorney's Office through steps such as citizen advisory boards and public forums.
Both candidates proposed fast-tracking domestic violence cases, and they sparred about Stewart's belief in the effectiveness of a "teen court" program - in which juveniles mete out punishments for minor crimes committed by their peers.
Oldham will take office in January, but said she expects to begin easing into the role soon and take on management responsibilities in Routt and Moffat counties.