Scott Fuqua is running for District Attorney in the First Judicial District which covers Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos Counties. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Scott Fuqua is a Democratic candidate for District Attorney in the First Judicial District which includes Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties.
A 1993 graduate of Portales High School and a 1997 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University, Fuqua (pronounced Foo-Quay) attended law school at the University of Chicago, graduating in 2001. He spent the next year clerking for Justice Pamela B. Minzner on the New Mexico Supreme Court and then moved to Dallas, Texas where he worked in the litigation section of the Houston-based law firm Vinson & Elkins, LLP.
In 2007, Fuqua returned to New Mexico and worked in the Litigation Division of the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office as a staff attorney for three years before becoming the director of the division from 2010 to the end of 2014.
“I’m running for District Attorney for a simple reason. It is an important job that I know I can do well,” Fuqua told the Los Alamos Reporter in a telephone interview.
He said he gathered experience working in the attorney general’s office which he believes is not only important but critical to success in the district attorney’s office.
“Specifically what I’m talking about is the ability to manage people and the ability to get the best out of them that they have to offer. Unfortunately for me, the elected district attorney doesn’t spend as much time in court as I would like especially because that is my favorite place to be,” Fuqua said. “The elected district attorney has responsibilities that go far beyond the courtroom in managing the office. The way I’ve been putting it, is you’ve got to make sure that the trains are running on time. That’s something that as the director of the litigation division under Gary King, I was able to do effectively.”
He noted that there were some great attorneys that he had the opportunity to work with and that there are great attorneys in the district attorney’s office as well.
Fuqua said one of his priorities is the way drug and alcohol crimes are treated.
“What I’ve come to call the criminalization of addiction is what I consider to be one of the single greatest policy failures in my lifetime. The war on drugs did absolutely nothing to attend to the problems it was intended to address,” he said. “What it has done instead is swell our prisons to a level unheard of in most western democracies.”
Fuqua said the reason it’s not going to solve the problem is because the problem is far more encompassing than just drugs. He said there are so many things that drive that addictive behavior that the system today hasn’t really done a great job of addressing.
“There is drug court operating in the First Judicial District that I think does a pretty good job of diverting people that could benefit from that type of counseling. There is an even better program getting off the ground in the Santa Fe Magistrate Court called the wellness court, that deals with not just the behaviors themselves but some of the unresolved trauma underlying that drives that addiction,” he said. “The easiest example that I’ve been giving to people of the way that I see this working is with repeat DWI offenders, because when you have somebody that’s in court on their seventh DWI, they’re not there because they can’t stop driving, they’re there because they can’t stop drinking. Putting them in jail and taking away their car, taking away their driver’s license, obviously hasn’t solved the problem because by the time you get to seven DWIs you haven’t had a car for about three DWIs. But it obviously hasn’t stopped you because that underlying behavior hasn’t been addressed.”
Fuqua said that on the campaign trail, when it was actually possible to be on the campaign trail, he had the good fortune to talk to several people in the private sector, people working primarily for non-profit organizations, who run programs that he thinks the state could very well partner with to help people that find themselves in the criminal justice system not because they’re a hardened criminal but because their circumstances were such that the found themselves sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time and sometimes just driven by needs and by things that they don’t have control of.
“The program that I found that I like the most is called the Path to Wellness and it’s run on Pojoaque Pueblo. I’ve had the opportunity to speak a few times to the governor of Pojoaque Pueblo about expanding that program and the extent to which they would be willing to take individuals who aren’t living on the pueblo into the program,” he said. “It is an all-encompassing addiction counseling and trauma counseling. It’s a terrific program. There are several others that I would like the opportunity to partner with and have had the chance to talk to people about.”
Fuqua said he had the opportunity to meet many people in the district and had been looking forward to meeting more before public health concerns made that impractical. He intends to continue to participate in virtual forums offered throughout the district.
Fuqua is married to Miranda Katko Fuqua and they have three young sons, Tyler, Adam, and Thomas.
For more information, visit https://www.fuquaforda.com/ or Scott Fuqua for DA on Facebook.