2018 Candidate Survey Responses

Governor

Colorado’s Governor not only has the ability to sign or veto legislation sent to them by the state legislature, but also has a broad range of executive powers regarding incarcerated Coloradans.  They are elected every four years.


Mike Johnston

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Support

Please explain your answer:
Yes, I would support such a bill, and my opposition to the death penalty has been on the record for a decade. While Colorado has had a more thoughtful process than some other states, the death penalty has nonetheless been proven nationally to have been unevenly applied and utilized disproportionately against minority residents. I cannot in good conscience support a law with the potential to inflict the ultimate punishment unfairly based on race, or in error against an innocent defendant.


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: As I stated in the 9News debate last month, while I do not support the death penalty, until I have the opportunity to review the details of the case of Nathan Dunlop and the two others currently on death row and talk to the families of the victims, I cannot answer this question.


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: I believe we need courageous leadership on this issue and the answer is not indecision. As Governor, I am committed to making a decision about Nathan Dunlap so that the families of victims are not held in a perpetual state of waiting and wondering. Additionally, I will work with the legislature to abolish the death penalty and make decisions on the additional cases of death row inmates, so Colorado can join the other 19 states who have abolished the death penalty, and the death penalty can become a piece of Colorado’s history instead of our future.


Cary Kennedy

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Support

Please explain your answer:
I do not and never have supported the death penalty. The death penalty is costly and is disproportionately applied to Coloradans based on race and where the case is tried. It is unfair and immoral to continue the practice when we know this bias exists. The death penalty results in slow and uncertain justice for families of victims, an extensive financial burden to families and taxpayers, acts as an ineffective deterrent of crimes and does not help law enforcement secure plea deals.


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: I would consider commuting sentences of individuals on death row to life in prison without parole. I personally do not support the death penalty. Before making any decisions as governor, I will review all of the information on the case and meet with all parties involved in any death penalty case including victim family members.


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: I personally do not support the death penalty and would support legislation abolishing the death penalty. In cases where a jury has issued a death penalty sentence, Colorado law allows a governor to intervene and as part of that process the Governor has exclusive ability to review all of the case materials​. ​With the Dunlap case I will review all of the materials that only the governor has access to and I will meet with all parties involved including the families of the victims before making a decision.


Greg Lopez—No Response

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Unknown

Please explain your answer:
,,,


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Donna Lynne

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Support

Please explain your answer:
I oppose the death penalty. Study after study has shown that the death penalty adversely impacts communities of color and does not deter crime. It is incredibly expensive for the state to maintain prisoners on death row, even relative to life imprisonment without parole. Those savings should instead be used to invest in programs that prepare prisoners for jobs and life when they leave prison. Public safety must be the primary goal for our law enforcement agencies and corrections department.  But roughly 95% of people in prison will be released at some point and return to their community, and we must, as a state, do all we can to make their re-entry successful through education, job training and mental health support.


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: Yes, but I would make any decision on a case by case basis.


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: I am aware that information came out after Nathan Dunlap’s trial that the jurors who convicted him were not aware of. However, I have not seen any of those details and do not have enough information about Nathan Dunlap’s state of mind at the time of the tragedy.  I would need to know more about these details before I can comment on it.


Victor Mitchell—No Response

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Unknown

Please explain your answer:
,,,


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Jared Polis—No Response

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Unknown

Please explain your answer:
,,,


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Walker Stapleton—No Response

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Unknown

Please explain your answer:
,,,


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Doug Robinson—No Response

Would you support or oppose a bill that ends the death penalty in Colorado and replaces it with a sentence of life in prison without parole?

X Unknown

Please explain your answer:
,,,


Q: Would you consider using your authority as governor to commute the sentence(s) of an individual(s) on death row to life in prison without parole? Please explain.

A: ,,,


Q: In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed executive order 2013-006, granting an indefinite reprieve to Nathan Dunlap, effectively establishing a moratorium on executions in Colorado. As governor, would you extend or end this policy? Please explain.

A: ,,,

Attorney General

Colorado’s Attorney General is the highest law enforcement position in the state, and is elected every four years along with other statewide offices.


Joe Salazar

Do you believe Colorado should retain or abolish the death penalty?

X Abolish

Please explain your answer:
I am the only AG candidate who has taken a vote to abolish the death penalty in Colorado. The point being that abolishing the death penalty is more than just a talking point for me. I find the death penalty to be morally repugnant and unconstitutional.


Q: How does your position affect how you would operate the office of Attorney General if elected?

A: I will not defend the death penalty on criminal appeals as I believe it is unconstitutional. I also will use the policy advocacy arm of the AG’s office to lobby the Colorado General Assembly to abolish the death penalty.


Q: Do you support keeping or eliminating the Violent Crimes Assistance Team, and what role do you feel it should play if you would keep it?

A: I would sit down with key stakeholders from the community, district attorneys, law enforcement, victims rights advocates and many others to discuss how the Team can remain useful after removing the death penalty from the equation. If the Team’s key function involves only prosecuting death penalty cases and there is no way to modify the purpose of the Team, I will eliminate the Team.


Phil Weiser

Do you believe Colorado should retain or abolish the death penalty?

X Abolish

Please explain your answer:
In many cases, the death penalty is given to innocent people and is disproportionately applied to people of color. In Colorado, we have worked hard to develop a system that gives defendants a full and fair defense, but the case for using the death penalty still remains suspect. In particular, the death penalty is very expensive to use, juries don’t want to give the death penalty, and it drags out the experience for families while appeals are pending. It is thus more humane, sensible, and cost effective to abolish the death penalty.


Q: How does your position affect how you would operate the office of Attorney General if elected?

A: I would, if the occasion were available, not seek the death penalty and would counsel others to follow the same course. I will also work with the Legislature to abolish the death penalty.


Q: Do you support keeping or eliminating the Violent Crimes Assistance Team, and what role do you feel it should play if you would keep it?

A: I would keep this unit and would use it for the purpose Ken Salazar intended when it was first established—to support rural District Attorney offices by providing personnel when necessary to handle cases involving complex and violent crimes.


George Brauchler—No Response

Do you believe Colorado should retain or abolish the death penalty?

Did not respond to survey.

District Attorney – Judicial District 20

While most district attorneys are not on the ballot this year, judicial district 20 is having an election due to vacancy.  District attorneys are directly involved in the decision about whether or not to pursue the death penalty in criminal cases in their jurisdiction.


Michael Dougherty

Do you believe Colorado should retain or abolish the death penalty?

X Abolish

Please explain your answer:
I am against the death penalty. It should be abolished in Colorado. I do not believe any society should put its citizens to death.

For my first internship in law school, I worked with a team at the Office of the State Public Defender in California on a post-conviction appeal for James Hardy. I took the position because of my opposition to the death penalty. Mr. Hardy had been found guilty of stabbing a woman and her son to death in 1981. During the summer of 1995, I worked on that case exclusively and visited Mr. Hardy at San Quentin State Prison. In 2016, the appellate court overturned the conviction and death sentence.

That was my first experience with criminal law and, although much has happened in my life over 23 years since that internship, my opposition to the death penalty remains the same. I have seen horrific crime scenes and worked on major, difficult cases – but I do not believe the death penalty is an appropriate sentence. When I think of some of those crime scenes, I respect that some have a different view than mine. However, I have always believed and continue to believe that it is wrong for our government to seek to put individuals to death.


Q: Under what circumstances would you pursue the use of the death penalty:

A: As District Attorney of Boulder County, I do not foresee pursuing the use of the death penalty. I summarized my personal views above. I have been open about my position with the voters, the criminal defense bar, and my staff at the Boulder District Attorney’s Office. If I have the honor of being elected, I will continue to lead the office in a manner consistent with these statements.

As District Attorney, I will not simply ignore the law in Colorado that allows for the use of the death penalty. However, as I tell residents of Boulder, I must also weigh the prosecutor’s ethical obligation to only file cases which I believe can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Having lived in Boulder since moving to Colorado years ago, I have a good sense of our community. I do not believe a Boulder jury would ever reach a unanimous verdict finding that a death sentence is morally justified.

For all of the above reasons, I do not envision any circumstances in which I would pursue the use of the death penalty.


Mike Foote—Partial Response

Do you believe Colorado should retain or abolish the death penalty?

X Abolish

Please explain your answer:


Q: Under what circumstances would you pursue the use of the death penalty:

A: I will not pursue the use of the death penalty as the District Attorney.