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DA Brandenburg won’t run for re-election

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announces on Tuesday that she will not seek another term. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg announces on Tuesday that she will not seek another term. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)

Embattled District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said during a Tuesday morning news conference, “I’m not going to be running for a fifth term for district attorney. My last day in office will be December 31st.”

The announcement came on the deadline day for candidates seeking to replace her to file with the office of the secretary of state.

Brandenburg, 61, a Democrat, the daughter of former District Attorney James Brandenburg, has been in office for 15 years, making her not only the first female district attorney in the 2nd Judicial District, but its longest-serving DA.

Pressed on why she was not seeking re-election, she said quite simply, “I’m tired.”

Future plans include “going into private practice initially,” though she didn’t rule out seeking another elective office. “I’m not saying no to anything,” she said.

In January 2015, she filed murder charges against two officers involved in the March 2014 shooting of homeless camper James Boyd in the Sandia foothills. It was the first time that murder charges had been filed against an Albuquerque police officer for an on-duty shooting since Brandenburg became district attorney in 2001.

Attorneys for the officers almost immediately sought to have Brandenburg and her office disqualified because of “serious conflicts of interest,” such as Deputy District Attorney Deborah DePalo acting as the “on-scene” adviser from the DA’s Office during the Boyd shooting. District Judge Alisa Hadfield eventually ruled to disqualify Brandenburg and her office in favor of a special prosecutor.

Brandenburg herself was under suspicion for possible bribery and witness intimidation in connection with an Albuquerque Police Department burglary and larceny investigation involving her troubled 26-year-old son, Justin Koch. APD found probable cause to charge Brandenburg but sent the case to the Attorney General’s Office for review in November.

Brandenburg denied any wrongdoing and claimed APD was retaliating for her decision to charge the two officers. Eventually she was cleared by state Attorney General Hector Balderas.

Often at odds with the local news media, Brandenburg on Tuesday sounded a conciliatory note. “I can think of no greater curse on any public official than not to have a strong media scrutinize everything they do, because that makes us better,” she said. “It has made me better.”

Citing accomplishments from her time in office, Brandenburg said she worked with neighborhood associations and police to rid neighborhoods of nuisance buildings where criminal activity had been taking place; started the felony DWI division; and challenged the premise of the Capital Jury Project, which “basically said the death penalty is unconstitutional.”

Three people Tuesday filed as district attorney candidates in the primary election on June 7: Democrat Raúl Torrez, a former assistant U.S. attorney for New Mexico, an assistant state attorney general, and an assistant district attorney for the 13th Judicial District in Valencia County; Democrat Ed Perea, a former Albuquerque police commander and a special prosecutor in the 13th Judicial District; and Republican Simon A. Kubiak, an Albuquerque criminal defense attorney focusing on DWI cases.

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