Something about the small towns of Portales and Clovis make people feel at home, and lot of people that grow up in the region tend to stay. Matt Chandler, formerly District Attorney, and currently District Judge since 2015, is running in the New Mexico 9th Judicial District Court election for Division 1.
Chandler, was not only born and raised in the area, but he obtained his initial education and also began his career here.
Chandler graduated from Clovis High School, and had plans to attend West Texas A&M University where he had received a tennis scholarship. However, just weeks before he was supposed to begin his college career, he went to a freshman orientation at Eastern New Mexico University.
“I decided ENMU had so much more to offer me, so I changed my mind and enrolled at ENMU the following week. With regard to my education, it was the best decision I ever made,” said Chandler.
During his education at ENMU, Chandler was very involved on campus. He explained that he finds student involvement to be extremely important.
“I was a senator for the student body and president of my fraternity, Kappa Sigma, all of which helped me develop long lasting friendships and really taught me leadership skills that I still use today,” said Chandler.
Growing up with a father who was a police officer, Chandler gained a high respect for the law. During his senior year of college, Chandler became sure of the career path that he wanted to pursue. With the encouragement of a professor, he applied for an internship in the District Attorney’s Office.
This experience confirmed his goal of becoming a prosecutor. Graduating from ENMU in 1998, Chandler earned his Bachelor of Science degree in both Sociology and Criminal Justice.
He went on to University of Tulsa College of Law and graduated in 2001 with a Juris Doctorate.
When he completed law school, Chandler returned to Clovis and Portales.
“It’s a tight community that still holds faith and family in high regard, two things that are of the utmost importance to me so I always knew I wanted to return to the area to start a career and family,” said Chandler.
He came back, and to no surprise, was immediately was involved in the community again. When he returned, he acquired the position of Assistant District Attorney, and months later ran for District Attorney.
At just 27 years of age, Chandler became the youngest District Attorney to ever exist in the state of New Mexico. After a decade spent as District Attorney, Chandler was appointed as District Judge by Governor Susana Martinez.
With his love for the surrounding community, Chandler has been able to give back through his career as judge.
“I absolutely love serving in the judiciary. My satisfaction comes from helping and serving others, and being a judge allows you to do both,” said Chandler.
Being a judge does not come without its challenges. Family is an important aspect of Chandler’s life and he went on to explain that some of the most challenging things to face as a judge are cases that include child custody disputes. When a case involve child custody, there is pressure and it is immensely important to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child.
While it can be difficult at times, Chandler also said that it has also been very rewarding for him.
“I’ve already had a few occurrences where I’ve seen people bounce back from addictions and become productive members of society, and that’s rewarding. Adoption cases are also [some] of my favorites and extremely rewarding. Finding placement for a child with a caring and loving family is always something that I cherish” said Chandler.
Chandler has been very successful thus far, and has put others before himself, which is an important trait for a judge.
Considering all of Chandler’s determination, hard work, and accomplishments throughout the years, it is apparent that being deeply rooted in the Clovis and Portales community has not only been beneficial for him, but also for the area. Chandler’s love for and commitment to the area stays consistent and he hopes to remain involved.
“You never know what the Lord has in store for you, but I can honestly see myself finishing my career serving as a judge. For me, it’s a passion and I hope to be a part of this community and the judiciary for as long as possible,” said Chandler.