Group raises candidate Richards’ teenage conviction

With nine days to go before the Grand Junction municipal election, some residents are questioning whether City Council candidate Jacob Richards is fit to hold an elected office, given the fact he has a felony conviction and has had other legal trouble.

But Richards, 30, said those transgressions and the lessons he learned from them have helped mold him into a better person.

“I’m obviously not proud of the mistakes I made as a teenager, but the experience has definitely shaped who I am and made me a stronger person,” Richards said Friday. “I think people in this town can see through those teenage mistakes.”

An email sent out last week by Citizens for a Safe and Healthy Mesa County pointed out Richards’ run-ins with law enforcement over the years, including a crime spree in Aspen in 1999 and an incident in Grand Junction in 2008 in which he was among a group of people who tried to block then-Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s motorcade. Citizens for a Safe and Healthly Mesa County is a group urging voters to ban medical marijuana centers in the city.

“Do we want a man who has a history of law-breaking and no respect for other people’s freedom of speech sitting on the City Council as a leader?” the email from the group asks.

The email also alleges the local media has failed to report Richards’ criminal history. The Daily Sentinel, in fact, published a lengthy article on Aug. 22 about Richards that detailed his previous crimes.

Richards was arrested in 1999 as one of 11 Aspen youths linked to an eight-month crime spree. Richards, who was 18 at the time, was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated car theft, second-degree burglary of a building, theft of $500 to $15,000 and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

He accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to felony burglary, for which he was sentenced to four years in prison. Richards served a little more than a year in prison and was allowed to finish his sentence in community corrections in Grand Junction.

In the Palin motorcade incident, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstructing government operations and was fined and ordered to complete useful public service.

Richards said part of the reason he ran for City Council is that during his work on issues, such as advocating for the homeless, he has “come up to an immovable brick wall, which is part of the City Council. I want to be part of that brick wall and hopefully move some things.”

Richards, John Ballagh, Jim Doody, Aaron Norris and Joshua Wussick are vying for the council’s at-large seat.


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