By Darrell Todd Maurina
CLOVIS — In a 90-minute debate of Republicans seeking the position of Ninth Judicial District Attorney, Incumbent Brett Carter promoted his experience while challenger Matt Chandler spoke of an aggressive new vision for fighting crime.
Although both presented different visions for the future of the district attorney’s office, they were agreeable on one item: Something must be done about increasing crime in the district, which includes Roosevelt and Curry counties.
“I think what’s a major concern to us is the increase in violent crime,” Carter told an audience of about 150 who turned out at Clovis Community College Tuesday night. The debate was sponsored by the Clovis Legal Association.
Carter, who has served nearly 17 years as an assistant prosecutor and later head of the district attorney’s office, said his office is currently handling 11 homicide cases and 14 child sex abuse cases, and noted that the public defender’s office assigns its most experienced attorneys to help those accused of crimes.
“Those who know me know I’m a prosecutor, not a politician,” Carter said. “As a citizen I think you would want to have the most experienced prosecutor prosecuting these cases.”
Chandler, whose father was the former Clovis police chief and also served as an elected state legislator and magistrate judge, said Clovis has experienced a massive rise in crime and needs an aggressive prosecutor to fight against the trend.
“Statistics will show that 85 to 90 percent of those of you in this room will be victims of crime at some point in your life,” said Chandler, a 1998 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University.
Chandler served 17 months working under Carter before deciding to run for Carter’s position and said he had Carter’s trust to handle difficult cases during that period.
“I’ve prosecuted homicide cases; I’ve handled murder cases,” Chandler said. “Mr. Carter trusted me with those cases when I was in his office.”
Carter and Chandler are both Republicans and both running in the June 1 primary. So far no Democrats have announced their candidacy.
May 4 is the final day for Curry and Roosevelt County residents to register to vote in the primary.