Champagne: balance & fairness

To the editor,

As a former assistant district attorney for the Sixth Judicial District, I know what it takes to be second in command in the DA’s office, and that is why I am voting for Christian Champagne. The assistant district attorney must be an effective trial lawyer but must also be an organizational force, leader of the district attorney’s team and fairly enforce the DA’s prosecution and sentencing policies. The ADA must be capable of making any decision required of the DA and to step up and do the DA’s job at any moment. For these reasons, Champagne is by far the best candidate and most qualified to be our next DA.

His opponent, instead of outlining his specific experience and qualifications (he has never served as ADA in four offices), has taken this race to a new low, using negative attacks that are misleading and misconstrue many of the outcomes of trials by Champagne. For an accurate response to these misstatements, visit:

Christian is a positive person who will continue the highly effective restorative justice policies already in place throughout Colorado. He has a varied professional background, not only as prosecutor with almost eight years’ experience, but he also served four years as a public defender. As ADA he has earnestly protected the rights of victims while ensuring the fairness of the process to victim and defendant. The public and victims deserve a balanced prosecutor, not one prone to go off on a sentencing tangent to please those who confuse hard line prosecution with true justice. He has learned to attack the public safety risks presented by hardened criminals while balancing the need to rehabilitate those who are not career criminals, thus avoiding expensive jail and prison costs. He is a balanced and fair-minded person who will serve this judicial district well.

Please vote for Christian Champagne for district attorney in the June primary. He has served honorably as ADA and will remain a diligent prosecutor with a sense of balance, fairness and a public safety perspective that will serve the district well.

– Michael E. McLachlan, Durango

Providing relief for the gouging

To the editor,

Missy Votel’s article, “Health Care Takes a Hike,” was both enlightening and frightening. Glum news indeed that insurers are pulling out of the market and our health care premiums are going up so dramatically.

The end of the piece, when she talks about ColoradoCare, was a breath of fresh air. Finally some relief from the gouging of the for-profit insurance companies that are putting profits over people. 

ColoradoCare would provide better health care coverage for every resident of Colorado at a lower total cost to Coloradans. I am so glad that the polling is showing the majority of Colorado voters support ColoradoCare. 

It would make such a positive difference for our residents and our state.

– Donna Young, Cañon City

Lammons is better qualified

To the editor,

I agree wholeheartedly with the premise of Bonnie Cabrerra-Schmidt’s letter to the Durango Herald, “District Attorney qualifications matter.” When I look at the qualifications and experience of the two candidates, however, I come to a very different conclusion. One might surmise, as Bonnie implies, that Ben Lammons has moved from job to job and this somehow makes him less qualified to be our D.A. Or one can look, as I do, at the breadth of experiences he has had and how those experiences better qualify him for District Attorney. For 21 years, Lammons has been a prosecutor, demonstrating his commitment to those victimized by crime.

I met Lammons at a Carver’s meet and greet. I was impressed by his thoughtfulness and his positions. He also believes strongly in restorative justice programs such as Drug Court and Mental Health Court. Contrary to assertion, these programs were created by Sarah Law and Martha Minot, not Christian Champagne. Lammons recognizes that there are times when alternatives to incarceration are not appropriate. Champagne’s career has been littered with mistrials and plea deals. Mistrials are costly to the public and revictimize the victim. Hardly qualifications for La Plata County’s top prosecutor.

During a chance meeting with an attorney from the public defender’s office – someone who had worked with both candidates – conversation turned to Lammons’ better qualifications.  Just recently, he received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police. Like them, I will be voting for Ben Lammons on June 28.  Remember that the primary will determine who becomes District Attorney. One can change voter affiliation to vote in the primary and have a say in who becomes the county’s top prosecutor.

– Denise Bohemier, Durango

Mannix an excellent addition

To the editor

Kudos to the Telegraph for stealing Jeff Mannix’s “Murder Ink” column away from the Herald, even if only in your online edition and only once a month. Mannix writes the most compelling book reviews anywhere. Usually I am out the door and headed to the library or Maria’s before I’ve even gotten to the end of the column. Although he describes the type of book he covers as crime fiction, it’s usually a lot more than that. Always excellent writing, devious plots and unforgettable characters. As a long time Mannix fan, I am thrilled to see him back. An excellent addition to the Telegraph. Now put him in the print edition – every week!

– Kitty Benzar, Durango

(Editor’s note: Kitty, we are glad you are enjoying the Telegraph’s newest addition. Although the paper is usually jam-packed with our regular content, we will make every attempt to include Jeff’s column in our print edition when space allows.)

Vote for real world experience

To the editor,

Registered Democrats have received mail ballots that will determine who is going to be the next district attorney. The choice is between Ben Lammons or Christian Champagne. Both are honorable men. Both support sensible, alternative sentencing for minor offenses.

The significant difference is that Lammons is far and away the more gifted trial lawyer. While his opponent got his initial experience in the Public Defender’s Office, Lammons has been and is a career prosecutor who has served as a special U.S. Attorney and in the District Attorney offices in Albuquerque, Fort Collins and Durango, and is now the Southern Ute Tribal Prosecutor. Most importantly, he has the savvy and skill to convict those who have committed violent crimes.

There have been too many trial errors and resultant plea bargains in the current make-up of the D.A.’s office. Please join me in correcting that situation by casting a vote for Ben Lammons. He has the maturity and judgment to serve us well. And if you know a police person, think about asking one of them for his or her opinion.

– Stephen Martin, Durango