Jun 7, 2024 - News

1-minute voter guide: Denver's District Attorney race

A man in a navy blazer and light blue shirt laughs while seated next to a woman in a gray blazer and light blue shirt, who is laughing as well.

Denver district attorney candidates John Walsh and Leora Joseph during a forum in Denver in May. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

The race to lead the Denver district attorney's office — officially the 2nd Judicial District — comes down to two career prosecutors from the same political party.

Why it matters: Whoever wins the June primary will likely be Denver's next top prosecutor.

Meet the candidates: Leora Joseph, a behavioral health director with the state, and John Walsh, former U.S. attorney, want to replace Beth McCann, who declined to seek reelection after serving since 2017.

Zoom in: Joseph says she plans a total overhaul for the office, a move based on public demand. She wants victims, especially those of sex crimes and human trafficking, to feel supported by the office.

  • Endorsed by the Denver police union, Joseph says she will work closely with law enforcement, but says accountability for officers is necessary. She wants a new position in the office focused on keeping tabs on them.

Walsh, who's endorsed by McCann, says the office needs to focus on addressing violent crime, fentanyl dealers, and catalytic converter thefts. Additionally, he wants to focus on expanding drug and mental health courts that send people to drug treatment programs rather than jail.

  • He says preventing youth violent crime is another major priority.

The intrigue: Walsh is open to creating a pilot safe use site in Denver allowing people to use drugs under supervision, which Joseph opposes.

Follow the money: Walsh has an edge in fundraising over Joseph.

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