Marco Serna, a Democrat who rose to prominence championing diversion programs for addicts, will be the new top prosecutor for Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.
Serna swept by his Republican opponent, Yvonne Chicoine, winning about 74 percent of early, unofficial votes for the district attorney office to be vacated by governor appointee Jennifer Padgett at year’s end. According to returns by press time, Chicoine had her best showing in Los Alamos, garnering 61 percent of the vote.
“People responded to the message that we need to start treating people like people,” Serna tells SFR from the Santa Fe County Democratic Party headquarters, where he watched election returns. He added that allies in Congress and fellow Dems picking up seats in the state House will help advance “legit crime bills, not antiquated crime bills.”
Serna, 34, last worked in the attorney general’s office, prosecuting Medicaid fraud. Before that, he headed the domestic violence unit in Sandoval County. Eric Serna, Marco’s father, is a well-known Democratic operative who served as state Insurance Superintendent but retired from that post in 2006 amid controversy.
Marco Serna made a name for himself during the summer primaries, touting a progressive approach to addiction-related crimes. He vowed to continue cooperation with the City of Santa Fe’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program and hopes to expand that effort to Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties. He also promised to radically change the district attorney’s approach to officer-involved shootings by establishing an independent board to review such cases to determine whether use of force is justified.
State House Looks to Be Turning Blue
Democrats appear to be gaining ground in the New Mexico State House, as early voting results Tuesday evening showed them poised to pick up several seats.
Representative-elect Linda Trujillo told the crowd at the Democratic headquarters that she’d hoped for at least three, but early returns suggested five could be on the way.
“Now we have the opportunity to take legislation to the governor,” she said. “She may veto it, but we can move it.”
Republicans held the majority in the state House 37-33 going in to the election after wresting it from a 60-year Democrat hold in 2014.
Current House Minority Leader Rep. Brian Egolf, an attorney focused on water law issues, had a clear win over Republican Roger Andrew Gonzales for his spot representing House District 47, with nearly 80 percent of the vote in early returns. Egolf was elected to the House in 2008 and became the House Democratic Floor Leader in 2015, positioning him to become Speaker of the House.
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, an educator, appeared to have successfully defended her seat from Republican challenger Sharon Stover, to continue representing District 43. Incumbent Democrat Rep. Matthew McQueen, a land conservation and historic preservation attorney first elected in 2014, also looks to have held his spot, with 58 percent of the vote as of press time. His Republican challenger Jeremy Ryan Tremco is a former sergeant in the US Army.
The Senate District 39 race, in which Liz Stefanics challenged Rep. Ted Barela for the seat he was appointed to fill after Sen. Phil Griego resigned last year amid an ethics investigation, was too close to call. (Elizabeth Miller)