FARMINGTON Farmington municipal judge candidates Bill Liese and Rena Scott agree therapy is an important part of lowering the number of repeat offenders. But they disagree on the type of therapy people should receive.

While Liese has focused on group therapy in the past 20 years he has been a judge, Scott said she would focus on individual therapy.

Liese said while serving as a police officer, he and a friend promised each other that once they retired, they would run for judge.

After 21 years of police service, Liese retired and, as promised, he ran for judge and won.

"My platform has always been 'tough but fair,'" Liese said.

Rena Scott
Rena Scott (Courtesy of Rena Scott)

Scott has a background in social work and currently works with people with disabilities. However, she has also worked with domestic violence victims.

"I'm young, I have new ideas, I am honest and I have an honest true heart to really help people," Scott said.

She said if elected she will work closely with probation officers, health care professionals and law enforcement to help the offenders.

"It takes a teamwork of people to help an individual," she said.

In his years as a judge, Liese has partnered with Presbyterian Medical Services, Totah Behavioral Health and other facilities to provide therapy for offenders, especially focusing on decreasing the number of repeat offenders.

Liese has a history of implementing programs involving group therapy. In 2013 he implemented a program for public inebriates. That program requires people in the program to report daily to Totah Behavioral Health Care for drug screenings and classes. The classes not only focus on health, but also on skills such as caring for children.

"The whole goal is to get these public inebriates reintegrated with their families and off the street," he said.

Liese said the program has saved taxpayers more than $36,000.

He said he is currently working on implementing a theft prevention program.

In Farmington last year there were 847 misdemeanor shoplifting cases, he said. His planned program will be similar to programs he has helped implement for substance abuse and will include classes, community service and reimbursing the business for the stolen items.

His plans don't stop with community programs. He said, if re-elected, he plans on making the court system fully electronic, minimizing paper use. He said this will include a website that the public could access to look up the status of their court cases.

However, Scott said these group therapy programs are just covering the problems rather than addressing them at the core.

Bill Liese
Bill Liese (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

She said that offenders in group therapy are with friends and strangers who often will say what they think they have to say to get through the programs.

Instead, she thinks the court system should focus on one-on-one and family therapy because a lot of the time the problems are happening at home and family members may be able to shed additional light on the root of the problem. She said peers are more like a support group and there are benefits of group work, but she thinks it needs to start at home.

She said if elected she will not tell people they have to go to a certain therapist. Instead, they will find their own therapist and provide the court with proof of the therapy.

Scott said she is running for municipal judge because she likes helping people.

This is the second time Scott has run for a judge position. She previously ran for magistrate judge in Aztec, but, she said, the timing was not right because she had children in high school. Now she feels she is in a better position to serve as a judge.

She said people come to her asking if she'll help them if they vote for her. She tells them yes, but they may not like how she helps them at first. However, she said, later on they will thank her.

"I know change is always difficult," she said. "Sometimes change is good though."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow him @hmgrover on Twitter.