Friday, March 24, 2023

The Race for Attorney General


In 43 states around the country, the Attorney General is an elected position as the state's chief legal counsel. That position is responsible for a whole host of issues, including helping to oversee law enforcement training around the state and consumer protections. This year's race is between a familiar face in Albuquerque, Democratic candidate and Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez and relative newcomer Republican Jeremy Gay of Gallup.

The Paper. reached out the Jeremy Gay's campaign, but did not receive a response as of press time.

The Paper.: How would you address police oversight and misconduct as the chief prosecutor for the state? 

The way I would address police oversight is informed by the innovative work at the Bernalillo County DA’s office. I would like to implement standards we use with law enforcement like Giglio questionnaires to understand what misconduct an officer may have been accused of or had on their record in the past. We’ve invested a lot into that process and it seems to be working well, and it provides transparency. We've created a process that every DA's office in the state has a framework they can follow. 

The AG's office should create a legal framework for law enforcement oversight and implement technology and staff training.

How would you participate in the Law Enforcement Academy Board and the training of officers around the state? 

I want to have a real review with the Department of Public Safety and the training standards, we can’t have patchwork of different training standards. A good example is training on uniform chokehold standards. The training needs to reflect legal, constitutional policing standards.

The AG's office has to be a stakeholder in policing in a modern context. We haven’t done enough in that regard. I was disappointed they removed the AG from the LEAB position during this last legislative session. 

I would offer to put our agency back in a more central position and but in order to do that the office needs more funding and resources. 

I think we haven’t done enough to prepare young police officers for the demands of what the job really is. If we have high expectations for constitutional policing, and we haven’t done that with the modernized curriculum, then we are setting them up to fail. 

How will you work across party lines and with police unions on police oversight?

It’s work I’ve already done, before Giglio and disclosure policies, we had a lot of back and forth with the unions. I believe we were pretty successful, and I think we work well with Albuquerque Police Officers Association now.

Albuquerque received a federal grant to clear a significant rape kit backlog which has led to arrests in decades old cases. There is no doubt that there is a significant backlog in rape cases in various agencies around the state. How would you address this? 

To a certain extent the testing is the easiest part of the equation. There’s funding to get the testing done. There's so much work that needs to happen after the testing. Reaching out to victims that tried to close the door on a painful past have to open up a case again. There’s a whole list of things that need to be done with most cases that are in a backlog. Because these cases weren't in a system, they weren’t fully investigated. The reality is all you’ve done is open a small window of a possibility of successful prosecution. My hope is to get the kits statewide tested and have people shift focus on redoing the investigation and creating more support services for victims. 

While this is primarily in the hands of the SOS, the AG’s office has been involved with the fake electors and other issues around election integrity. How do you see the Attorney General’s role in this? 

I suspect Jeremy Gay and I feel differently about the role of the AG on this. It is the AG and the SOS's job to make sure every vote is counted. A prime example in is what happened in Otero County when commissioners relied on misinformation and internet conspiracies to vote on getting rid of voting machines and trying to push a recount for the 2020 election. That is absolutely something I’ll push back against with existing authority with SOS and provide a detailed roadmap to update the election code so ant- democratic behavior can’t exist.

Jeremy Gay has said he feels the AG’s office has become politicized. Do you agree?

I don’t really know what he’s referring to, but more than being politicized there’s a lack of resources and funding but has been a steady expansion of the types of authority the AG has. 

What do you think the main role of the AG is? Is it prosecution? National Civil suits? Cyber crime? 

The AG's primary role is acting as a lawyer and serve the interests of the state. It is also to stand up for communities that don’t have a voice or access to services they need. It is to stand up for constitutional rights, stand up for citizens as consumers, and to live in safe communities.

How will you protect reproductive health care rights in New Mexico?

This state is going to be a safe harbor especially for women and young girls in south Texas, especially in cases of incest and rape. This is a place where women are going to come to access that healthcare. 

I’m prepared from day one to make sure to go after sheriffs who think they can impede women from making their own healthcare decisions. 

The Legislature needs to consider what protections we offer people who come to this state, especially for rape and incest. 

Do you believe Joe Biden was the duly elected president of the United States?



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