LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Dona Ana County will swear in the first Black district attorney in New Mexico on January 1st.
Gerald Byers, 62, said he will work to deliver justice for the community.
“People expect it and people deserve it," he said. “My intention for my office is to focus on the mission of serving the people and pursuing justice. Anything else is secondary.”
Henry Valdez, director of the administrative office of district attorneys, said he isn’t aware of any other African Americans in the state who have held the office.
“I’m happy. I’m thankful for all the people who helped me and supported me and gave me guidance and direction and needed confidence,” said Byers, who has served as the chief deputy DA for over three years. He was elected in November to the top spot after running unopposed.
Byers was born in Germany. He eventually moved to Texas where he was a commissioned officer on a naval base and served as a security guard. He decided to go to law school and graduated from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1995.
Byers said he began his career at the Bernalillo County district attorney's office while in school through a program that allowed third-year law students to prosecute cases under the supervision of a prosecutor. His first job was at the district attorney's office in Gallup, and he has worked across the state and in several Texas counties since then.