Gov. Sununu and AG tap former NH police chief, prosecutor to head drug battle
CONCORD — Governor Chis Sununu and Attornery General Gordon MacDonald announced May 30 staffing changes under both men.
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.
“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.”
Prior to his role as Manchester Police Department Chief of Police, Mara served in various roles as a prosecutor, sergeant, lieutenant, patrol sergeant, and police officer in the Manchester Police Department. Mara 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.
While acting as a Senior Assistant Attorney General at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, Vara led the Drug Prosecution Unit in the Criminal Justice Bureau, overseeing felony drug prosecution and drug-related death cases. Vara previously co-chaired the Opioid Task Force, and worked in the Grafton County Attorney’s Office as Assistant County Attorney.