Garnett came through Ridgway Monday to meet with voters and discuss his candidacy.
He’s 54 years old, a Colorado native with deep roots, and currently District Attorney for the Twentieth Judicial District, which represents Boulder County.
“I got in the race,” Garnett told The Watch, “because there’s been a lot of partisan stuff” going on with the current AG. For example, Suthers joined Florida’s attorney general this winter in a lawsuit to invalidate the health care reform act passed by Congress.
Under Suthers, “consumer protection has been underserved,” according to Garnett. In 2007 and 2008 Colorado was number one in the country (number two in 2009) in per capita reports of fraud, identity theft and other consumer-protection complaints. “Only eight of the 245 lawyers in John’s charge do consumer protection. I’ve got three just in Boulder County.”
Garnett’s grandfather worked at the Gilman lead mine up the Eagle River from Minturn, Colo. “I’m proud of that,” the candidate said of his heritage. “Gilman is now an EPA Superfund Site. I guess I’m not so proud of that.”
Garnett’s mother grew up on a farm outside Brush on the northeastern plains. His parents met at the University of Colorado in 1949.
He followed in his parents’ footsteps, getting his undergraduate and then his law degree from CU. He’s been a lawyer for 28 years, spent four years as a deputy DA in Denver, eight years on the school board in Boulder and now two years as Boulder District Attorney.
“My opponent has been running ads describing me as ‘Boulder Liberal Stan Garnett.’ I saw that coming. But Boulder is a place where things work pretty well. Boulder County sends fewer convicted felons to prison than most counties. Putting non-violent felons away doesn’t keep the county safer. It makes it more dangerous, because they learn from hardened criminals on the inside. We have five drug courts in Boulder; we help people stay in the community.”
A celebrated parole and murder case on (then U.S. Attorney) Suthers’ watch has become an issue in the campaign. Garnett is not shy in pointing out that in 2002 Suthers signed off on the release of Scott Lee Kimball from federal prison. Kimball, who had been serving time for check fraud, convinced the FBI that he had knowledge of a cellmate’s plan to kill a witness in a drug case. Suthers agreed to free Kimball under the assumption that he was an FBI informant. Kimball subsequently killed four people and is suspected in a fifth murder. Suthers has said he doesn’t remember the case well enough to comment.
“The case had to have been a top priority for John’s office, and if it wasn’t, it should have been,” Garnett said.
“There’s no better job for a lawyer than being Attorney General in Colorado,” Garnett said. “Training lawyers, protecting families and the vulnerable, protecting consumers, protecting the environment.”