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Resident moving forward with recall

Secretary of State's office rules petition in compliance with statutory requirements

Joshua Roberts

A Craig resident is moving forward with a petition to recall Bonnie Roesink, 14th Judicial District Attorney.

The election division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s office informed Kathy Oberwitte on Tuesday afternoon that the petition she submitted for review complies with statutory requirements.

“The information met the standards set forth in the statutes,” said Jonathan Tee, Secretary of State communications director. “Now the process is really back into Kathy Oberwitte’s hands.”

The 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,” and “violated the Colorado Victims Rights Act by not treating victims and their families with respect, fairness and dignity.”

“Her failure to professionally lead and manage the 14th Judicial District has led to many plea bargains and light sentences for some while grossly overprosecuting others,” the petition reads.

“Such unprofessional and irresponsible management is grounds for removal from office.”

Roesink had no comment.

Oberwitte said she would begin circulating the petition Tuesday evening and has volunteers lined up to circulate the document in Moffat and Routt counties. She is seeking a volunteer for Grand County, which also encompasses the 14th Judicial District.

“I have people waiting,” Oberwitte said. She added, “Our community can’t be abused anymore.”

Oberwitte and Craig resid-ents William Puhl and Lisa Molison are listed on the petition as the recall committee.

According to the 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.

Once the petition is submitted, the secretary’s office has 10 days to verify the signatures and another 15 days to accept protests of signatures or those who circulated the petition.

Gov. Bill Ritter then would be required to select a date for the recall election.

Oberwitte’s desire to recall Roesink stems from her disagreement with the district attorney regarding a case involving her 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, who reportedly was under the influence of methamphetamine, collided with Bailey’s vehicle.

Roesink charged Lund in Routt County with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor.

Oberwitte and her family lobbied Roesink to file a more serious charge –vehicular homicide — against Lund.

Roesink vacated the charge against Lund to consider the family’s request. In January, she announced that the original charge against Lund was the “correct judgment.”

Roesink said prosecutors didn’t believe the evidence against Lund would be enough to secure a conviction.

Oberwitte said she’s been working on a recall petition since Jan. 18.

“I prayed and prayed and prayed about what to do with this,” Oberwitte said. She said she received telephone calls from community members urging a recall.

“It’s basically what our community has spoken out for. The people came to me. It may be that my prayers were answered.”

Oberwitte said she won’t be satisfied with acquiring the minimum number of signatures required for a recall.

“My goal is 6,000,” she said.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.


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