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Two running for seat as Chaves County magistrate judge

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Voters have a choice between an incumbent who has been on the bench for almost three years and a woman with experience in the criminal justice field when they decide who should be the Chaves County Division II magistrate judge starting in 2019.

Republican E.J. (Enos) Fouratt, the incumbent, and Libertarian Mayna Erika Myers have no opposition in the primaries. If they receive at least one vote by primary election day June 5, they will face each other in the November general elections.

Magistrate judges serve four-year terms and preside over cases related to traffic violations, landlord-tenant disputes, contract disagreements and criminal misdemeanors. They also have jurisdiction over preliminary hearings in felony cases. The position pays $65,146 a year.

Myers is an asset protection manager for Wal-Mart. She previously worked from 2007 to 2013 in corrections departments and with third-party companies serving corrections facilities in Utah and New Mexico, including Hagerman.

She said that she earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Provo College in Utah in 2009 and is certified in Wicklander interviewing and interrogation techniques.

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She said that she considers the magistrate judge position a good fit with her experience and her willingness to serve.

Lisa Dunlap Photo
Mayna Myers, a Libertarian candidate for Division II magistrate judge, is making her first run for public office.

“I want to go forward with making a difference, so therefore when I started looking at what I could do the best at, this would be the position I felt I could make the most difference at,” she said. “It is where I think I have the most experience as far as with my background and with where I want to go.”

Active in the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, she said party philosophies would be unlikely to affect her role as a judge. She did say, however, that like most Libertarians, she considers herself a constitutionalist. “I am there to interpret the law. I am not there to make law from the bench,” she said.

She said her intentions as a judge would be to give victims a voice, to rule with consistency and to create more efficiencies in court operations so that witnesses are not required to be in the courtroom for hours when not needed.

“I’ve spent some time in the courtrooms just with my current job,” she said, explaining that she has worked with judges and prosecutors and testified in court for shoplifting cases. “My philosophy is definitely more ‘follow the letter of the law’ and more consistency. There are inconsistencies that I have seen and I want to correct that.”

She also expressed the desire to hear from victims.

“When I judge, it will be per the letter of the law. However, I feel like a lot of times all the focus goes on the suspect or the person that is in front of me and the victims don’t get heard,” she said. “One of the things I want to change is to be able to hear the victims before I make sentences. That option I haven’t seen in these courts, and I think that is a very important option.“

Married and the mother of six children, ages 19 to 1, and five stepchildren, Myers said she is relying on grassroots campaigning, meeting with the public to talk with residents.

She said that she often hears that people want change in the judicial system, and that they stress the desire for judicial decisions to be made on the law and not the personal views or temperament of the judge, a factor that she said is not specific to any one judge but related to the area courts in general.

Fouratt, a former law enforcement officer, seeks election to the bench for the second time.

A Roswell High School graduate, Fouratt spent about 20 years as a New Mexico State Police Officer, working primarily in Roswell and Clovis. The last seven years, he served as sergeant in charge of criminal investigations for southeast New Mexico. After retiring from the State Police, he worked for three years as a lieutenant for the New Mexico Military Institute police department.

He also has been a member of the New Mexico State Police Association and the New Mexico Public Safety Commission.

Gov. Susana Martinez appointed him to the bench in 2015 following the death of Judge John Halvorson, who passed away in August of that year before his term expired in 2018. Given his appointment, Fouratt was required to run for the position in 2016, doing so unopposed in both the primary and general elections.

Married with two grown sons, Fouratt said his accomplishments as a judge have included developing a “no contact order” adopted statewide to protect witnesses from intimidation. He also pointed to the introduction of a new ankle monitoring system that provides information about not just location but also alcohol levels.

He said he seeks re-election as a way of continuing to serve the county where he was raised.

“I love Chaves County and I love being a public servant, and this is a way to continue that, to continue what is in my heart,” he said. “I want to make sure that everybody is getting their civil rights taken care of, the proper treatment that they are supposed to get, that I am following the New Mexico state statutes that I have to follow, the rules given down by the New Mexico State Supreme Court, that I am following those, and to continue fair justice for all.”

Absentee voting for primary elections begins Tuesday at the Chaves County Clerk’s Office. Early voting starts May 19, with voting day on June 5. The general election begins with absentee voting on Oct. 9. Voting day is Nov. 6.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or reporter02@rdrnews.com.