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Commission hopeful served jail time, had 4 DWI arrests

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Rudy Garcia, a Santa Fe School Board member who is running for a county commission seat, was arrested seven times over a 10-year period ending in 2008, including four times on DWI charges, court and jail records show.

Rudy Garcia

Garcia, 47, pleaded guilty in two of the drunken-driving cases. Two DWI counts were dismissed.

Records from the Albuquerque Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque show in 2008 he served more than two weeks in jail for the second DWI conviction, according to a Bernalillo County spokeswoman.

Garcia was also arrested for “open container” – having an open bottle or can of an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle that’s on the road – and for assault against a household member.

Garcia was booked into the Santa Fe County jail on those counts, in 2003 and 2005, respectively, but the outcome of those cases couldn’t be determined from available records.

Regarding the multiple charges and convictions, Garcia said, “Those are things that happened in my young past. I’m moving forward (and) getting over those things that happened in the past.”

Garcia was appointed to a vacant school board seat in December. He is a longtime Santa Fe County employee and currently serves as the county’s legislative liaison.

In the November general election, Garcia is the Democratic candidate for the Santa Fe County Commission seat from District 3, covering much of the southern part of the county. He faces former two-term commissioner Mike Anaya of Galisteo, who is running this time as an independent.

When first asked on Monday if he’d served jail time, Garcia said, “I don’t remember if I did or didn’t.”

On Tuesday, an MDC spokesman confirmed that Garcia was behind bars at the Albuquerque jail for 16 days, from May 2-18 in 2008, when Garcia was 37. The jail sentence was imposed after his second DWI conviction.

Asked Tuesday how he could not remember spending 16 days in jail, Garcia said, “I don’t even remember what I did yesterday.” He added that he doesn’t recall spending that much time in jail.

Between 1999 and 2008, Garcia was arrested seven times in Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County. DWI charges from 1999 and 2004 were dismissed.

He pleaded guilty to two DWIs in Bernalillo County in 2003 and 2007. He was also arrested on a warrant during the proceedings in the 2003 case.

The 2005 charge for assault on a household member shows up in Santa Fe County jail records. But the case can’t be found in online records for the state court system.

A staffer at Santa Fe Municipal Court couldn’t find this charge against Garcia in the local court’s records, either.

But a Santa Fe Police Department report documents the June 3, 2005, incident that led to his arrest.

It says Garcia was accused of attempting to kick open the back door of a woman’s residence after she didn’t answer the front door.

The reporting officer described Garcia at the time as “visibly intoxicated” and smelling of alcohol. The woman told police she was afraid because Garcia “has violent tendencies.”

In the report, Garcia told the officer he only went over to the woman’s house because she called him to come over.

Santa Fe Municipal court administrator Jon Singh said a search of the court’s records show a 2003 charge against Garcia. The ordinance number cited is for an open container violation. But Singh said the records don’t show how the case was resolved.

Garcia declined to elaborate on what happened with either the assault or open container charges.

Garcia was appointed to the school board in December 2017 to replace Linda Trujillo, who stepped down to focus on her duties as a state legislator.

The board chose between Garcia and another county employee, John Salazar, the only other person who expressed interest in the position.

Garcia may have had the inside track, having served as a member of the school district’s Citizen Review Committee, an advisory committee for capital projects, for 10 years.

School board president Steven Carrillo said Tuesday that he felt he could speak for all the board members in saying that they were not aware of the charges in Garcia’s past.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about this,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to say much more without knowing the facts. “I think it would be prudent to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

As part of its election coverage, the Journal recently asked Garcia and his County Commission election opponent Anaya to fill out a candidate questionnaire. The last question was, “Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony?”

Garcia answered “Yes.” Asked to elaborate a couple of weeks ago before the questionnaire was published, Garcia said he had one DWI charge 10-15 years ago.

Questioned this week about that claim, Garcia said he may have misunderstood the question or may have been distracted.

Journal North reporter T.S. Last contributed to story.