Assistant District Attorney Brett Barkey of Hayden hopes to replace DA Oldham
December 15, 2011
Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham of Fraser will not be seeking re-election in November 2012.
“It was something I considered very seriously and ultimately decided not to run again,” said the DA, who was elected in 2008.
“It’s been a real honor to work in the office,” she said. “I’m really fortunate to have people really dedicated and committed to the DA’s office. They’ve been a really good team.”
After her term is up, Oldham plans to remain in prosecution and is seeking work at a public office somewhere on the Front Range, she said.
Although the job has been “fulfilling” working with law enforcement and other agencies to “serve and protect our community,” Oldham said it’s also had its share of challenges.
One was “trying to serve the needs” of three different counties and communities “in an even-handed way.”
She also will not miss the long bi-weekly commutes to cover the district, she said.
In the final months of her term, Oldham will be assisting with an attempted-murder case going to trial in Routt County, as well as continuing to mentor attorneys.
Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Brett Barkey of Hayden has announced his bid for the office. Oldham hired Barkey about six months ago with the idea that he would be her successor.
“I wanted to be able to find someone who would be able to come into the office and make a smooth transition,” Oldham said. Even though the district attorney position is an elected post, “it can be hard on the office with abrupt changes,” she said.
So far, Barkey is the only candidate to have publicly announced his interest in the office, which oversees a $1.5 million district budget. He plans to run as a Republican, and said it will be his intention to “keep the team together” that makes up the 14th if elected. “It’s really a top-knotch group of folks,” he said.
“I think he would bring a lot to the district attorney’s office,” Oldham said. “He’s been an attorney for 25 years, and he brings a lot of experience and perspective.”
Barkey, 50, a fourth-generation Coloradan, took the second highest leadership job in the district as a way to segue back into civilian life after three tours in Iraq: 2003, 2006 and 2009.
He was called to active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps while working as Deputy District Attorney of the 4th Judicial District in Colorado Springs.
Before that, Barkey had dabbled in private practice, but he discovered quickly he preferred to work in the public sector, he said.
“I never had an interest in making a lot of money as an attorney. Applying my legal talents to benefit the public is what I felt more passionate about,” he said.
After his first Iraq tour, Barkey spent five years as an adviser to the Office of Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury, during which he was the primary author of an executive order signed on Sept. 23, 2001, by President George W. Bush. The order served to close suspected Sept. 11 terrorists out of the international banking system, forcing them into riskier ways of holding and moving wealth in the aim to prevent enemies from being able to “enrich themselves on the U.S. economy,” Barkey said. Osama Bin Laden was one of the individuals named.
“It was largely symbolic,” Barkey said, explaining the order spoke of the scale of attacks the U.S. was prepared to launch, including on the economic level. Bush called it the “first shot on the Global War on Terror.”
After his second tour, Barkey served as the assistant director for enforcement at the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Then in 2007, he returned to Colorado and took a job as chief deputy district attorney in Craig before leaving for duty as Marine Corps prosecutor in New Orleans, in advance of being called to his third tour in Iraq.
Now a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Barkey took the job at the 14th Judicial District in August. Barring something extraordinary, he does not foresee being called again to active duty, he said, as he wraps up his time in the military.
He cites illegal drugs and alcohol abuse as the heaviest of tolls on communities that make up the 14th District, he said, with much of the caseload stemming from these abuses.
And for the serious cases involving assault, murder, even sexual assault, the 14th “presents the same sort of challenges in the courtroom as any other community in Colorado does,” he said.
He said he is “not surprised” such cases occur in mountain communities. “I’ve been in courts from traffic court to the U.S. Supreme Court, plus all kinds of courts in between, so I don’t find anything particularly surprising anymore,” he said, adding: “Not that it’s any less troubling.”
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603