District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and former DA Marco Serna brought their campaigns for another term to a packed house at the party headquarters auditorium on May 22 at a DPSFC forum.

Carmack-Altwies, a former public defender and private practitioner elected First District DA in 2020, defended her administration on a pair of criticisms that have been leveled by Serna, who held the job from 2017 to 2020 – that the current policy on DWI cases is flawed and the appointment of a special prosecutor in the investigation of a fatal shooting on the “Rust” movie set was expensive and unnecessary – prompted by the involvement of movie star Alec Baldwin.

Dismissing DWI cases and refiling them later to allow time for further investigation, Carmack -Altwies contended, is one of the reasons behind an increase in the office’s conviction rate from 36 to 87 percent. She said her handling of the “Rust” case has been a success, which is obvious from the conviction obtained against set armorer Hannah Gutierez-Reed.

She contends that Serna left the office in shambles. “They had an absentee boss and now they do not,” she said. “There is organization. There is structure. And things are running smoothly. And you can see that in our ongoing successes in court.”

Serna pledged a greater degree of transparency if he is returned to the office, which serves Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Rio Arriba Counties. And he said he would not be driven by a defendant’s celebrity in deciding whether to appoint special prosecutors in high-profile cases.

“It doesn’t matter how high-profile a name is,” he said. “Because it’s the same private attorneys that we go up against day to day that are handling (the “Rust’) case. So nothing changes … The same strategies are going to (be employed).”

Carmack-Altwies and Serna square off in the June 4 primary. The winner will almost be guaranteed election.