Englewood

Meet your municipal judge candidates

Current mayor, associate judge and former assistant county attorney to compete

Posted 9/12/17

With Englewood’s current municipal judge, Vincent Atencio, hanging up the robe after 20 years in the position, this year’s election will see three candidates vying to take the onlyelected municipal judge spot in Colorado.

They include current …

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Englewood

Meet your municipal judge candidates

Current mayor, associate judge and former assistant county attorney to compete

Posted

With Englewood’s current municipal judge, Vincent Atencio, hanging up the robe after 20 years in the position, this year’s election will see three candidates vying to take the onlyelected municipal judge spot in Colorado.

They include current Mayor Joe Jefferson, who has served on city council for about 10 years and acted as mayor for about two; Angela Schmitz, a current associate municipal judge for Englewood; and Clifton Hypsher, an attorney who defends clients against DUI charges. Jefferson graduated from law school at the University of Denver; Schmitz, at the University of Oregon; and Hypsher, the University of Colorado.

Here are written statements from each candidate for the Nov. 7 election.

Joe Jefferson

Judge Vincent Atencio has admirably served us for many years, and with his retirement, I hope to continue our proud local tradition of “Justice with Dignity.”

Our courthouse should be a place that upholds justice, while respecting the dignity of all. Our judge must provide a court that minimizes confusion and intimidation, while implementing the community need for deterring and punishing crimes and violations. I will improve the community experience and reduce costs of our operations, including expansion of internet services to provide more information and payment options.

In addition to my legal qualifications, this position requires a deep understanding of our community. I’m a lifelong Englewood resident, and my family business, Twin Dragon Restaurant, has served our community for over 40 years. In addition to being our mayor, I’m a local attorney with my own law firm, Jefferson Legal Group, P.C. I have also proudly served and represented us for the last 10 years on city council. It is also my honor and privilege to serve Englewood as the first known Chinese-American mayor in Colorado history.

As the only publicly elected municipal judge in the State of Colorado, this job comes with the unique challenge of being a judge and overseeing a major city department. The judge must be mindful of our budget ... We need to prepare now for the potential expenses by exploring options to best meet these new requirements and explore potential regional partnerships.

Our strong sense of community in a smaller city with big-city amenities make me proud to call Englewood home!

Angela Schmitz

After serving as an associate municipal judge for more than four years, I believe I have the knowledge and experience to run a fair and efficient court. Englewood has a strong, efficient community court that serves Englewood citizens well. I want to continue that tradition, and I want to continue to improve court service to this community.

As an attorney, I’ve been on the trial team for several federal jury trials. As a judge, I’ve presided over dozens of trials, bench and jury. I served as a special assistant U.S. attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, litigating prisoner discipline, sentencing and restitution cases. Early in my career, I served as a county hearings officer, deciding animal control and code enforcement cases. I currently run my own law practice (Schmitz Law LLC), focusing on litigation and appeals.

I am an active member of the Colorado Municipal Judges Association, and have attended their trainings and conferences ... I have observed municipal courts in other cities and talked extensively with other municipal judges.

(As far as issues, many) defendants who appear before the court are homeless, and some appear frequently with charges like trespassing, shoplifting and open container. When it comes to sentencing those individuals, one of my goals is to prevent re-offending with conditions like drug or alcohol treatment, and work or school requirements.

It has been a joy to raise my two children in Englewood. I have a 12-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son ... This community has embraced my family, and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve Englewood.

Clifton Hypsher

My family and friends urged me to run for the Englewood municipal judge office. I’ve spent about a third of my adult life in public service — a great source of fulfillment and personal pride.

I’ve been an attorney for over a quarter-century. Before entering private practice here in Englewood, I was an assistant county attorney and then an assistant attorney general, representing the Colorado Department of Revenue. I have extensive practice experience in zoning and planning law, liquor licensing law, criminal law and motor vehicle law, areas of concentration for a municipal court judge.

The biggest problem facing us is maintaining Englewood’s character as a family-oriented community in the face of unprecedented growth. As municipal court judge, my duty would be to administer justice fairly and firmly to ensure a healthy and prosperous Englewood.

I earned my Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Syracuse University in 1979. Notable work assignments that qualify me for municipal court judge include Houston Police Department, CSI  from 1985-1988; Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 1988; Adams County Attorney’s Office, 1991-1994. I’ve run a solo law practice in Englewood since 1997.

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