Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Carter using experience to win re-election.

Brett Carter says experience counts.

He’s counting on that experience to carry him to a victory on June 1 over challenger Matt Chandler for the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s position.

Chandler, the 28-year-old Eastern New Mexico University graduate, is running an intense campaign in a race that is the talk of the town. Drama surrounds the DA race, mostly because Carter fired Chandler earlier this year after Chandler wouldn’t back down from running for DA.

Carter said he thinks voters want someone with a lot of experience serving as their district attorney.

For 17 years, Carter has been a prosecutor.

“This is the job I’ve always dreamed about,” he said. “I’m not using this position as a political stepping stone. I have been dedicated to public service.”

Carter was appointed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in 2002 and was elected a few months later.

He said one of his proudest moments in the prosecutor’s office came in 1997 when the New Mexico District Attorneys Association named him the prosecutor of the year.

That same year, the New Mexico Supreme Court appointed him to the Children’s Court Rules Committee, a group with which he still serves.

“To be recognized by the state Supreme Court and to be chosen to serve on that committee was an honor,” he said.

Carter said he’s concentrated on getting the DA’s office more “modernized.”

“We used to keep file cards of old cases on hand and if you wanted to check on someone you had to flip through all of these cards,” he said. “As soon as I came on we computerized that system. Now attorneys can spend more time in the courtroom.”

Carter has initiated several programs, including the Curry and Roosevelt County Truancy Initiative.

“We realized that in order to keep the juvenile crime down we needed to keep our children in school,” he said. “The more successful they are in school, the less likely they are to become juvenile or adult offenders.”

He said he’s also:

• Implemented a worthless check and pre-prosecution and diversion program for Roosevelt County

• Drafted House Bill 1005, relating to the enforcement of the Compulsory School Attendance Law, introduced in the 1997 Legislature session.

• Co-Authored Senate Bill 537, which enacted the Gang Enforcement and Prevention Act, introduced in the 1997 Legislature session.

Chandler has been critical of the DA’s office in recent weeks.

He said it has too many plea negotiations.

Carter’s response:

“The violent offenders are the ones receiving the stiffest penalties,” Carter said. “We’re really trying to be tough on our violent crimes and trying to put those people who commit those crimes away for the maximum sentence.”

Carter said an example of that is when Pedro Joaquin Amaro of Clovis was sentenced to life in prison plus 31 years for the killing of a Clovis resident.

He also noted that Richard Swopes of St. Vrain was convicted for molesting several children and was sentenced to 41 years in the Department of Corrections.

But the point that Carter thumps on more than anything else is that he has experience — much more than his opponent.

“I have tried every type of case,” Carter said. “I can use my experience to train young attorneys. I am the only candidate in this race who has a prosecutor within my office who is openly supporting my re-election. A lot of the prosecutors in the office have five or six years of experience, unlike my opponent, who has one year and four months of experience in the office. Many in the office feel that if they have a question for a trial they won’t have anyone to go to if (Chandler) is elected.”

Chandler contends he does have the experience to lead the office. He says he has covered every type of case also.

But Carter said those who are heading to court want to have a prosecutor with a lot of experience.

“If you are a defendant who is being charged with first- or second-degree murder, you want to hire the most experienced attorney,” he said. “The same goes in the public defender’s office, they want to put their most experienced person forward for their biggest cases.”

Carter said the district attorney for the 9th Judicial District needs about five to six years of experience.

“Not only are you the chief prosecutor, but you have to mentor and supervise the other attorneys and 22 other support personnel,” he said. “You are in charge of a $2 million budget. You are responsible for going before the Legislature to keep that funding.”

Clovis Mayor David Lansford said Carter’s experience should be a factor in the election.

“He is a good candidate and a good DA because he has a tremendous amount of experience,” Lansford said. “On a personal end, he is honest, has integrity and is extremely proficient in carrying out the duties of his office. There is no reason why this community should not consider him to be the DA again.”

Chandler has said the DA’s office does not do a good job of communicating with the public and that includes creating an open-door policy. Carter says that’s not so; his door is always open.

“Each one of our attorneys has 300-325 cases open at any given time,” he said. “So we are always meeting with victims and police officers. When people come in our office they can always get pointed in the right direction so their problems can get addressed.”

He said his office has a good working relationship with other officials in the area.

“If you look around at the various officials here, we have great relationships with them,” he said. “We meet frequently with those in the city, police and schools to discuss what is coming up.”

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Carter: My experience counts

Who: Brett Carter

Age: 42

Home: Clovis

Education: Eastern New Mexico University (undergraduate), University of New Mexico (law school)

Experience: Ninth Judicial district attorney, assistant district attorney and chief deputy district attorney

Service: Coached youth soccer teams and participated in Mesa Elementary School Olympics, volunteer with area search and rescue department and Red Cross water safety instructor

Endorsements: David Lansford, Ray Mondragon, Bonnie Mendoza, Doug Brooks, Juan Garza, Eddie Schaap, Minnie Bresler, Bryan McKay, Fred Van Soelen, Susan Casillas, Dick Smith, Zala Smith and numerous law enforcement personnel

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Get to know Carter

How do you spend your weekend?: “I spend lots of time traveling with our son’s traveling soccer team. Every now and then I am asked to investigate a crime. I spend some time over the weekend working on work-related topics.”

What he likes most about Clovis: “Individuals here are friendly. The schools are safe and we just have an abundance of programs for our children.”

Most memorable event at a Wildcat sporting event: “My son is really into Wildcat sports and he really likes to high-five the players. Every football player this year high fived my son as they made their way on the field. To see the smile on his face was something that I will never forget.”