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Last updated 12:34AM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
LaPlata, San Juan & Archuleta District DA Candidates Face Off
(2008-07-24)
TOP: Candidates draw to determine their speaking order prior to the forum.

Russell Wasley (R), and Democrats Todd Risberg and David Duncan.
(Photos: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Discussion about fighting crime through incarceration or rehabilitation highlighted a forum last night, involving three men who want to be District Attorney in LaPlata, San Juan and Archuleta Counties.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Republican Russell Wasley is unopposed in the November election for the District Attorney job in the 6th Judicial District, comprised of the three counties.
Wasley boasts 8 years as a prosecutor in Texas and Colorado, currently as a Deputy DA in the district.
His opponent will be determined August 12th in the only contested race in the Democrat Primary.
That contest pits David Duncan, a current deputy prosecutor in San Juan County New Mexico with 23 years in criminal and civil law, against Durango Attorney, former San Juan County Judge, and Public defender Todd Risberg.
Current DA Craig Westberg is not running for re-election.
Duncan, Risberg and Wasley fielded questions for an hour last night before an audience of 50 people during a forum held by the League of Women Voters.
Though all agree a DA's job is basically to fight crime by dealing with the bad guys and protecting the public, they disagreed on ways to accomplish those goals.
Risberg touts his support of Drug, Drunk Driving and Domestic Violence courts and behavior modification for non violent offenders saying incarceration rates are too high.
RISBERG: THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO BE IN PRISON, WE NEED TO INCAPACITATE SOME DANGEROUS PEOPLE. THAT'S NOT MUCH OF A SOLUTION FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS. WE SPEND MORE MONEY ON PRISONS THAN WE DO ON COLLEGE IN COLORADO, THAT DOESN'T MAKE A LOT OF SENSE TO ME. THERE ARE BETTER SOLUTIONS THAN PUTTING SOMEBODY IN PRISON.
Duncan says he too supports alternative programs for first time non-violent offenders, but strong incarceration policies have been effective in fighting crime.
DUNCAN: WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING INCARCERATED? IF YOU CHECK THE PRISON POPULATIONS IN THIS STATE TODAY, VIOLENT OFFENDERS, REPEAT OFFENDERS, DRUG TRAFFICKERS, AND IT REALLY IS MORE OF A COMMENT ON THE AMERICAN SOCIETY. HERE IS A PROGRAM THAT HAS WORKED, IT HAS TAKEN CRIME OUT AS A NATIONAL ISSUE. AND NOW WE'RE STARTING TO FOCUS ON THE WRONG END OF IT.
Wasley says he supports the current practice of the DA's office of using probation for first time property offenders.
WASLEY: NOBODY IN THIS DISTRICT IS RUSHING TO PUT A 19 YEAR OLD CAR THIEF WHO HAS COMMITTED HIS FIRST OFFENSE INTO PRISON. AT THE SAME TIME, THE DA'S OFFICE IS NOT A SOCIAL WELFARE AGENCY. IF SOMEBODY IS A REPEAT OFFENDER, THEN INCARCERATION IS THE RIGHT THING.
Wasley spoke of returning a drug court to Archuleta County and beefing up the DA's office by hiring more staff.
WASLEY: WHEN I TALKED ABOUT HAVING A DEDICATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROSECUTOR, THAT WOULD BE AN ADDITIONAL POSITION. AND WHAT I WOULD SEEK TO DO IS ADD AT LEAST ONE DEPUTY DA TO THE CURRENT STAFF. RIGHT NOW THERE ARE NINE DEPUTY DA'S.
Both Democrat candidates Duncan and Risberg took exception to Wasley saying the local DA's staff is already adequate.
DUNCAN: I HAVE AN ADVANTAGE I THINK HERE. WE HAVE 14 ATTORNEYS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S IN THE OFFICE IN FARMINGTON. YOU HANDLE 600 FELONIES HERE. WE HAVE FIVE MORE ATTORNEYS AND WE HANDLE FOUR THOUSANDS SEVEN HUNDRED FELONIES. SO, I'M NOT SURE HOW MUCH ADDITIONAL STAFF YOU NEED. YOU MAY NEED TO REORGANIZE THIS OFFICE.
RISBERG: I AGREE TO AN EXTENT WITH WHAT MR. DUNCAN IS SAYING. THERE'S NONE ATTORNEY'S IN THIS DISTRICT AND THAT'S PER CAPITA, HIGHER THAN JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER DISTRICT IN THE STATE. WE HAVE PLENTY OF LAWYERS. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS PRIORITIZE OUR CASES. WHAT WE CAN DO IS SPEND LESS TIME. LET'S MAKE A REASONABLE OFFER FROM THE START. LET'S RESOLVE THE CASES AT A REASONABLE LEVEL, SOLVE THE PROBLEM, MOVE ALONG SO WE CAN CONCENTRATE ON THE SERIOUS CASES, ON THE VIOLENT CRIMINALS, ON THE CASES THAT REALLY MATTER.
All three agreed plea bargaining can be a beneficial way of resolving a majority of cases.
The primary election is August 12th.
Early voting begins August 4th.
The winner in the Duncan/Risberg case will go on to face Wasley in November.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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