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Valencia County Sheriff Endorses Martin Heinrich

The Democratic candidate for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, Martin Heinrich, proudly exclaims on his website that he has garnered the support of three of the four sheriff’s that make up the district – the fourth being his opponent, Sheriff Darren White.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at why these particular sheriffs might choose to support Martin Heinrich over Darren White. Today, we’ll start with Valencia County Sheriff, Rene Rivera, and Rivera’s stated reason for supporting Martin Heinrich:

Valencia County Sheriff Rene Rivera appeared Saturday at a Valencia County welcoming event for Martin Heinrich. In his endorsement, Sheriff Rivera said, “I’ve been in law enforcement for over 19 years fighting against crime and drugs. Martin Heinrich was tough on crime on the Council, and I know he’s the right partner in Congress to help keep our streets safe. That’s why I’m endorsing him.”

Since I’m not a Valencia County resident, I don’t know much about Sheriff Rivera’s crime fighting record over the last 19 years, but when it comes to being tough on DWI’s, his record is, well, less than impressive:

[Valencia County sheriff’s deputy] Duran has been arrested on DWI charges twice before, according to Belen Magistrate Court records. In 2003, Duran was charged with DWI and speeding but pleaded guilty to resisting an officer and reckless driving, and the other charges were dismissed. In 2004, he was charged with aggravated DWI causing bodily injury, and the charge was dismissed without prejudice.

[Valencia County Sheriff] Rivera said he knew when he hired Duran, a former State Police and Socorro police officer, that he had a prior DWI charge. However, he said Duran was hired because he had never been convicted.

One thing most voters can agree on is that number of repeat DWI offenders allowed on our roads has got to stop. Yet, Sheriff Rivera, not only doesn’t seem to be bothered by the problem, he is willing to look the other way and give a two time offender a badge. And, apparently, Martin Heinrich must agree with him because Heinrich’s proud to accept Sheriff Rivera’s endorsement.

It is worth noting Sheriff Darren White’s record on DWI enforcement:

Sheriff White has also made preventing and reducing DWI a top priority in Bernalillo County. In addition to being an outspoken advocate for harsher penalties, under his leadership, the Department has undertaken aggressive DWI enforcement operations.

So, on the one hand we have a law and order candidate for Congress, Sheriff Darren White, an on the other, we have a candidate, Martin Heinrich, who happily accepts the endorsement of a Sheriff who seems to believe that the solution to the DWI problem is to give repeat offenders a job as a deputy.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at another one of the Sheriff’s who supports Heinrich.