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News Release

For Immediate Release
May 30, 2017

Contact:
Governor Sununu Press Office
(603) 271-2121
Sununu.Press@nh.gov

Governor Chris Sununu, Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, Announce Staffing Changes

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald today announced that James Vara, the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health has been promoted to a role at the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office as Associate Attorney General serving as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Gordon MacDonald. David Mara, interim Chief of Police in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and former Chief of Police in Manchester, New Hampshire will take over as the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health.

Vara’s appointment must be reviewed and approved at the Governor and Council meeting scheduled to be held on June 7, 2017.

"James Vara has been an invaluable asset in New Hampshire's continued efforts to address the substance misuse and mental health crises in our state and I am grateful for his friendship as well as his outstanding service as a member of my staff", stated Governor Chris Sununu. "I am honored to have Chief David Mara join the Governor’s Office of Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Health. Chief Mara has served with distinction on the front lines of law enforcement and has seen first-hand the impact of drug misuse and the importance of solving our mental health crisis. This experience, combined with his great communication skills and service to community, will benefit our statewide efforts to combat these crises."

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald stated, "Before assuming his present position, James had a well-earned reputation as an exceptional prosecutor. As the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health, he has served the State with great distinction and his many talents have been on display. I am delighted that he is returning to the Department of Justice to continue his service in this important leadership role. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with him as our Chief of Staff."

David Mara, interim Chief of Police in Portsmouth and former Chief of Police in Manchester, New Hampshire, has over 30 years of law enforcement experience. Prior to his role as Manchester Police Department Chief of Police, David served in various roles as a prosecutor, sergeant, lieutenant, patrol sergeant, and police officer in the Manchester Police Department. David has previously served on numerous boards and commissions, most recently the City of Manchester Task Force on Immigrant and Refugee Integration, the New Hampshire State Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice, and the City of Manchester Task Force to End Homelessness. David received his B.S. from Northeastern University, and his J.D., from the New England School of Law.

James Vara, the Governor’s Advisor on Addiction and Behavioral Health is a former Senior Assistant Attorney General at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, where he led the Drug Prosecution Unit in the Criminal Justice Bureau, overseeing felony drug prosecution and drug-related death cases. James previously co-chaired the Opioid Task Force, and worked in the Grafton County Attorney’s Office as Assistant County Attorney. James received his B.A. from Montclair State University, and his J.D., from Rutgers University School of Law.

Office of Governor Christopher Sununu
State House  |  107 North Main Street  |  Concord, NH 03301
(603) 271-2121  |  fax: (603) 271-7680