Five W’s of Christian Champagne

To the editor,

Who? Christian Champagne –assistant district attorney for the Sixth Judicial District for the last seven years. What? That’s a candidate for DA that I wholeheartedly support! When? Champagne’s name will be on the Democratic Primary ballot to be mailed out the week of June 6, followed by the election June 28.

Why? After nearly a year of supporting Champagne in his bid for DA, I am convinced that he is the best candidate for this office. My confidence in his integrity, leadership and experience has increased during a number of formal and informal encounters. When I was in need of learning more about challenges of the transition to parole for longtime prison inmates, Champagne gave me his full attention offering comfort and wisdom. I have also witnessed his instinctive expertise in effective, no-nonsense examination interviews. He is confident and forthright coupled with being personable, accessible and compassionate.

As assistant DA, Champagne has been closely involved with duties including hiring, firing, training, supervising, budgeting, strategic planning and policy setting, all while carrying a full case load. He has strong relationships with law enforcement and community partners. He has spearheaded, expanded and participates in mental health court, and drug and DUI court, to name some areas of leadership. His conviction about restorative justice is balanced with the need for community safety. He would be ready on day one to effectively carry out the diverse DA duties already familiar to him. Champagne has the conviction and instinct to cut to the core nature of criminal behavior as well as recognizing human potential for restoration to community life.

For the sake of our district communities, consider joining me with a vote for Christian Champagne.

– Kathleen Adams, Durango 


DA candidates forum June 9

To the editor,

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County will hold a candidate forum on Thurs., June 9, 7-8 p.m., at Durango City Council Chambers, 949 E. 2nd Ave., for candidates for district attorney, Sixth Judicial District, in the Democratic Primary election. The candidates are Christian Champagne and Ben Lammons. This is the only contested primary election for offices in La Plata County. There is no Republican candidate for this office.

 Those attending the forum will be able to ask questions of the candidates. It may be viewed live on Durango Government TV, DGOV, on Charter Cable channels 191 & 981HD, and, via antenna, on channel 10.1 in La Plata County. It also may be streamed at du, and there will be a DVD available for viewing at the Durango Public Library.

 Primary Election Day is June 28. To vote in a primary election, voters must affiliate with a political party. If you are already affiliated and want to change parties, you must do so before May 31 in order to vote in the June primary. If you are not yet affiliated, you can do so by June 20 and still receive a mail ballot. After this date, you can still affiliate at any of the county’s voter service and polling centers, and vote in person. These are located at the La Plata County Fairgrounds and County Clerk’s offices in Bodo Park and Bayfield. Any affiliated voter can cast his or her ballot in person at one of these centers from June 20 -28.

Participation in the 2016 Primary Election will not affect your eligibility to vote in the 2016 General Election. Register at the County Clerk’s Office or online at The League urges all eligible voters to educate themselves on the issues and candidates and vote. One vote can make a difference.

– Trish Pegram, League of Women Voters, LPC


A look at the ministry of justice

To the editor,

Political campaigns often devolve into mudslinging, pandering and vitriolic rhetoric as the power-hungry seek to slake their appetites. Think “Game of Thrones” with suits and pens rather than naked with swords. One does not have to think too hard to recall examples of such ugly politics. Are the folks who engage in schoolyard bully tactics fit for public office? The answer to that likely depends on your values and how you feel a public servant should act and speak.

Prosecutors in Colorado, sometimes known as district attorneys, have their own special responsibilities under the rules of professional conduct. These rules are meant to regulate the ethical, sometimes unethical, conduct of attorneys. District attorneys have higher ethical obligations than other attorneys because they are not merely advocates but “ministers of justice.” 

To be frank, I have no idea what justice is. Everyone seems to perceive justice in their own way. That being said, I know when I see an injustice. An innocent person sent to prison released decades later after DNA evidence establishes another person committed the crime; a poor person held in a jail on a minor offense simply because he or she is too poor to pay for a bond; minorities given disparate treatment by the justice system on virtue of their race; a system that fails to address the public health implications of addiction; a prosecutor more interested in establishing a grandiose career than seeking justice. These are but a few examples.

The actions of our district attorney candidates while conducting their campaigns provide a window into how they would serve if elected district attorney of the Sixth Judicial District. At worst, Ben Lammons’ campaign has embodied compulsive adversarialism for its own sake. At best, Lammons’ campaign has levied meritless criticism of Christian Champagne’s handling of criminal cases; cases Lammons knows nothing about. Surely, an experienced prosecutor such as Lammons knows that true ministers of justice meaningfully consult with defense attorneys, law enforcement, community resources and most importantly, victims of crime. The hope for justice – or rather, the hope for the avoidance of injustice in any criminal case – cannot exist in a vacuum. 

Champagne’s campaign has risen above the vacuous fray of vitriolic mudslinging (I.E. “I incarcerated this specific human being forever therefore I’m TOUGH ON CRIME.”) His campaign and his actions as a prosecutor are reflections of his character. He is an original and contemplative justice seeker who does not resort to base ad hominem attacks either professionally or politically. His public service as our elected district attorney would protect our community by incarcerating dangerous individuals but would also employ the money and resources needed to help low-risk addicts – the folks among us that just need a little help along the way. Champagne works closely with victims of crime to help restore them from the harms they have suffered because he understands that justice requires it. He has demonstrated his commitment to the ministry of justice and to true public service day in and day out.

If the criminal justice system is to be more than an oppressive device degrading and unnecessarily incarcerating poor minorities and low-risk drug addicts, we must choose our ministers wisely. In that sense, when you cast your vote on June 28, you will be making a statement about your values and more specifically, about what justice and public service should look like in our communities. What is a vote for justice? I don’t know the answer to that question but I can tell you, I know what a vote for injustice would look like.

– Sean Murray, Durango