While both of the candidates for the district attorney position for the First Judicial District want to see more transparency, they differ on other programs and priorities for the office.
Both Democrat Alexis King and Republican Matthew Durkin have spent years in the DA’s office that prosecutes cases in both Jefferson and Gilpin counties, so they know the area well.
Jefferson and Gilpin county electors have until Nov. 3 to vote for the DA candidates. The DA serves a four-year term, and whoever wins the election will replace Republican Pete Weir, who is term-limited.
Durkin would like to create a Citizens Advisory Board to use as a sounding board for the office, a group that would learn more about what the DA’s office does by, as he put it, “peeling back the layers of the onion of what is happening in the courts.”
King said it’s always been true, but is now more important than ever, that the DA’s office explains to the public who is being prosecuted and why, using data regarding prosecutions to increase accountability and to ensure that people are not being prosecuted because of their race or socio-economic status.
Both candidates want to find ways to help those in the criminal justice system with King wanting to create a diversion program for low-level offenders while Durkin wants to create interventions for addicts who commit crimes.
King would like to create a diversion program for those in low-level crimes because the onerous nature of the criminal justice system destabilizes their lives, and they might lose housing, transportation and employment, likely returning them to the criminal justice system.
“That is contrary to public safety,” King said. “This is an area in which the DA’s office can lead.”
Durkin is interested in creating more programs through the DA’s office to intervene with offenders, so they don’t become repeat offenders. He said offenders, especially where addiction is the root cause, need to get help to overcome the addiction.
“We are not providing an opportunity for those in the criminal justice system to effectively deal with how they got there,” Durkin said. “We need to reduce drug addiction and recidivism.”
He said the keystone of all successful drug treatment is accepting responsibility for the problem, and that model should be used in the courts, probation offices, the business community and more to create a program to keep addicts from returning to the criminal justice system.
King, who if elected will be the first woman district attorney in Jeffco, has extensive experience with dealing with juveniles in the criminal justice system and has worked extensively to combat child trafficking.
“The DA’s office needs to provide ethical and effective prosecution of dangerous people,” King said, “and we also need to look at what else we should be doing to keep our community safe and our community healthy.”
Durkin, if elected, wants to continue fighting for victims and justice.
“District attorneys are passionate about what we do,” Durkin said. “It’s more important than ever to have an experienced prosecutor leading the DA’s office, so we can focus on seeking justice in every single case, not pursing an agenda.”
Matthew Durkin, Republican
Career: Has worked in the Jeffco district attorney’s office for nearly 25 years, starting as an intern in 1996; spent four years in the Colorado attorney general’s office, leading the criminal justice section.
Other activities: member of the Jeffco Bar Association’s board of trustees until 2019.
Alexis King, Democrat
Career: Deputy district attorney from 2006-2016, working both in adult and juvenile court; magistrate judge in county court in Denver from 2017-2019; 2019 to present, worked at the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center.
Other: Represented all Colorado district attorneys in the legislature on human trafficking issues.