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MUNICIPAL JUDGE CANDIDATE PROFILE: G. Robert Cook (incumbent)

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Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 12:00 am

Age (on date of election): 51

Years of residence in Rio Rancho: 14

Education: BAS, justice administration, Wayland Baptist University.

Occupation: Incumbent, municipal judge

Family: wife, Charlene; we have four children, four grandchildren.

Political/government experience: New Mexico State Police, 1984-2006, retired as a lieutenant; alternate Rio Rancho municipal judge, 2006-09.

Major professional accomplishment: I fulfilled most of my promises of four years ago, including creating a first-offender program, reducing paper production, restructuring DWI sentencing and changing court hours to better serve the community.

Major personal accomplishment: Completing my bachelor’s degree.

Have you ever been arrested for, or charged with, or convicted of drunken driving or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? No.

(The numbered questions each candidate answered are available online in an introductory article.)

1-I am asking for the votes of our community because I want to continue to serve and make Rio Rancho a better place to live. The one thing I promised but could not accomplish was to secure a second judgeship. With the council’s help, I hope to secure that position and reduce wait times, trial delays and allow the court to serve our community more expeditiously.

2-I am better qualified because I have the experience, the education and the training the others do not have. Besides my formal education, I have business experience, management experience and judicial training that will help me make good decisions on behalf of our citizens for the next four years. I am thoughtful and level-headed, and make good decisions based on the law and my vast experience.

3-Crimes handled by the municipal court are all petty misdemeanors. However, DWI continues to impact our community’s lives. I hosted my first DWI Town Hall to educate our citizens on DWI laws and procedures in October 2013. I will continue that education process with further Town Hall meetings, tapping the best minds in our area as speakers.

4-Though this is a very efficient court, there is always room for improvement. Discussions have begun on the issue of clerk window hours. The hours currently are the best of any court in the state: 7:30-5, Monday-Thursday. We may juggle schedules and open Monday-Friday to allow greater opportunities for defendants to take care of business without missing work or school.

5-Each case must be handled differently, based on all the circumstances. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. My sentencing philosophy is that a bit of jail is almost always appropriate. Multiple offenders, however, need to receive the focus of treatment; as I have for four years, I will continue to review treatment options to stop the cycle.

6-Very few juvenile cases are heard in Municipal Court. However, most traffic cases are. I have had some success with driver improvement school; I remain skeptical young drivers are receiving enough and the right kind of driver training. Fines, unfortunately, are often the burden of parents. As such, when fines are my only option, I often look at alternatives such as community service to lessen that burden on the parents.

7-I pride myself in setting aside my personal beliefs when I put on the black robe. The law must always govern the way I handle any case.

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