Salazar in fight for safer tomorrow

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By Carol A. Clark

A.J. Salazar promises if elected First Judicial district attorney to be tough on criminals and to support victim’s rights. The decorated combat veteran has served two tours of duty in Iraq and is a captain in the United States Army Reserve.

“After I’m elected, I want to hold a Public Safety Summit for the region,” he said during an editorial board meeting this morning at the Monitor. “I want to bring police, citizenry, treatment providers and media all to the same table to discuss the issues.”

Salazar, 41, of Alcalde, has been chief deputy district attorney since 2005 in the Española office where he supervises two attorneys.

He cites his leadership in the military, where he was responsible for the lives of others, to his leadership during 14 years in the DA’s Office handling budgetary concerns and administrative matters as reasons he will be an effective DA.

He mentioned advocating open communications between the DA’s Office and the media and designating a contact person who will provide information as the law allows.

Salazar also explained that he does not advocate taking members of the media to court but does expect them to do the right thing when it comes to alerting law enforcement of knowledge of any impending threats of violence.

Los Alamos County has not had a dedicated DA’s Office here for several years and Salazar has worked with County Council Chair Jim Hall during the last couple of years to change that situation.

“I’ve worked with Councilor Hall and Police Chief Wayne Torpy, and others,” he said, “and it’s taken a lot of work but we’re going to be here one day a week to start.”

White-collar crime is an issue Salazar said he wants to place more focus on at the DA’s Office.

An attorney who specializes in white-collar crimes has been hired at the office, along with retired state police officer Frank Jacoby, who Salazar describes as a “skilled investigator.”

In an effort to curb drug crime in the area, Salazar said he would like to see Los Alamos police involved in the regional narcotics task force.

To guard against duplication of effort, he said he wants to see the lines of communication opened between area police departments.

Salazar recalled shopping as a child at Metzger’s with his mother who was a nurse at Los Alamos Medical Center before he was born, he said.

He played sports at Los Alamos High School as a student from Española.

“I also remember being in the classroom up here when I was on the debate team,” he said.

Salazar earned both his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and his Juris Doctorate from the University of New Mexico.

Salazar is the father of a 2-year-old daughter and a son who turns 5 Saturday.

The First Judicial District encompasses Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties.

Salazar, Deputy District Attorney Joseph E. Campbell, 42, and Española city attorney Angela “Spence” Pacheco, 58, are vying for the post now held by Henry Valdez, who declined to seek a fifth term.

No Republican is in the race. The primary is June 3 and early and absentee voting is underway at the Los Alamos County Clerk’s Office.