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Ahlers makes second bid for bench

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Former police detective wants more attention on DWI, domestic violence

By Carol A. Clark

Undeterred by his loss in the last election, Republican Gary Ahlers is running for Magistrate Court judge against two-time Democratic incumbent Pat Casados.

“I feel we need to get back to our principals and values,” Ahlers said. “We have a lot of areas that need more attention such as our drunk driving, domestic violence and timely adjudication of cases. Also, the bail amounts need to be set higher for dangerous and violent offenders.”

Adjudicating cases in a timely fashion is important, he said, because otherwise those cases can be dropped or deferred. Setting low bail allows domestic violence offenders to bond out of jail and they can turn around and put their victims in the hospital, Ahlers said.

“You must adjudicate each case on its own merits,” he said. “As judge, my number one priority would be to address drunk driving and handle it in a more serious manner. Yes, we need to have compassion but when you see someone with second and third DWI offenses, you have to treat that seriously.”

The police are doing their job in arresting drunk drivers in Los Alamos, Ahlers said, adding that if elected judge he will ensure that offenders don’t get off “so easily.”

Ahlers, 55, explained that in his more than 20 years experience as a police officer he has seen first hand what drunk driving and domestic violence can do.

“People asked me the last time I ran how I could be compassionate in court after having been a police officer,” he said. “It’s that very experience that will make me a better judge. Having to go into a home to tell a mother her 14-year-old daughter was just killed by a drunk driver … or to confront an offender of domestic violence … all police officers understand what this feels like.”

Ahlers discussed his past, which surfaced during his last campaign nearly four years ago.

“I love the criminal justice system and if you let it – it will work for you,” he said. “I’m a living example of that. In my case, my official records are untouched, they’re unsoiled. George Chandler (Democrat and local attorney) tried to use these records he found online to ruin my reputation, a lot of what he brought out, well there were parts omitted, my records were expunged.”

Ahlers was referring to his 1995 indictment in New Jersey on charges of tampering with evidence, theft and misconduct in the line of duty after a gun in his department turned up missing and was later located at his father-in-law’s Santa Fe home.

New Jersey court officials verified in 2006 that Ahlers’ records were expunged, adding that it doesn’t indicate innocence or guilt but that records for first time offenses are typically expunged after a year, barring further incident.

“All my records were expunged with regard to that incident,” he said. “This is my ninth year in Los Alamos and people know what kind of a man and person I am. The most important things to me are my family and community and by community I mean my friends, neighborhood, church and sports – that’s what’s important to me – if people want to bring up something that happened 15 years ago – that’s ridiculous, let it go.”

Alhers is vice president of the Northern New Mexico Crisis Center, which provides assistance and shelter for domestic violence victims.

Ahlers is a member of the Knights of Columbus and a core member for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Youth Leadership. He coaches girls’ soccer and referees soccer, basketball and track and field.

He also served on the Los Alamos Municipal Building Site Committee.

Ahlers owns North Mesa Builders. He married Joan Ahlers 18 years ago. She currently serves on the Los Alamos School Board.

The couple has six children ranging in age from 29 to 11. They also have three grandchildren, a step grandchild and a cat named Cupid.