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Re-elected judge wants more staff, glad of clean campaigns

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Newly re-elected Municipal Judge Robert Cook plans to hit the ground running in his new term, starting by asking for money for a new court staff member en route to getting a second judge.

Cook won re-election Tuesday with almost 60 percent of the vote. The other candidates for the judgeship, Ramon Montaño and Jeffrey Goen, received 24 percent and 16 percent of the votes, respectively.

“It’s exciting,” Cook said, looking at another four years in his position.

Robert Cook.

Robert Cook.

Cook hopes to add another couple of staff members and then a new judge when there’s enough staff to support that judge. The municipal court facility has a second court room, but it’s unfinished and being used for record storage.

“It’s hard to think about new programs until you can adequately handle the cases you have,” Cook said.

Clerks are scheduling DWI trials out into April, setting aside extra days for trials that month.

If the governing body were to approve a second judge, Cook said, he’d like to see the position on the ballot in two years, which would allow time to prepare.

Also, Cook plans to hold town hall meetings and wants to know what issues the community would like to discuss. He can be reached at judge@ci.rio-rancho.nm.us.

Looking back at the run-up to the election, Cook said he and his team ran as good of a campaign as they could on his budget. Almost all of the people whose doors he knocked on treated him nicely, he said.

He complimented his opponents for clean races. Cook said they were cordial to each other, and he enjoyed getting to know them and appreciate where they came from.

Montaño congratulated Cook and thanked his supporters. He also said campaigns were clean.

“I think we’ll see a lot of positive things come from the election, and we can work together as a community,” Montaño said.

He has already spoken with Cook about starting a Teen Court program.

“I have to say Judge Cook is very open to that, and I appreciate him for that,” Montaño said.

Goen did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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