This year marks my 12th year as a District Court Judge and my fourth election cycle. Since my election in 2002, I believe that I have made a difference in the lives of many in this county.
Though many may view my decisions as unfair and partial, I am committed to helping to change the lives of all citizens, particularly the juvenile population. For the past four years, I have served as one of four judges who hear juvenile matters exclusively. I preside over a Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Drug Treatment Court and have witnessed positive changes in 28 juveniles in their quest to become drug-free and focused on education and community service. I have seen parents succeed in their struggle to change their lives in order to provide their children with positive and safe environments.
My passion and commitment to the juvenile community has been channeled into a vigilant campaign to create a one-stop juvenile facility in this county. I am joined by our Chief Judge Lisa Menefee, Judge Laurie Hutchins, Susan Frye, Clerk of Superior Court, and other youth advocates in this endeavor. I know and understand the importance of access to the services that are needed to rehabilitate this population. I have witnessed positive results when this population is focused and surrounded by opportunities to give back and be exposed to different ideas. In 2013, participants were exposed to aviation, professional golf, the arts spoken word, boxing and car repair, just to name a few. Idle minds and idle days were replaced with training and skill development that will benefit not only them, but the community at large.
In this quest for a one-stop center, I am preparing for the day when the age of the maturity in North Carolina reaches the age of 18. Only New York and North Carolina continue to keep the age at 16; however, legislation is pending to increase the NC age. I have seen far too many 16-and-17-year-olds with misdemeanors on their records that prevent them from jobs, educational pursuits and even adequate housing.
I will continue to balance the needs of this community in every decision that I render. I was born in this community, and my parents loved and worked to improve this county. I strive to make this community safe for all citizens, no matter where they live, the color of their skin, their gender or economic condition. I try to give all who appear in front of me their day in court, realizing that in district court, litigants need to be heard.
I am seeking re-election because I believe that I have made a difference, and want to continue to make a difference in the lives of our citizens. I want an opportunity to continue the reunification of families, to help young citizens understand and receive treatment for addictions, and, in my own way through the opportunities and gifts that God has blessed me with, to give hope.
I got a card Christmas past from a female inmate whose child is in DSS custody. She wrote, “… you have truly given me hope and encouraged me … my family can’t thank you enough … I can rest better knowing that my children are in the hands of a presiding judge that is not afraid to stand for righteousness, even in the face of evil.”
Please make voting in the 2014 elections a priority. I am bold enough to believe that the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are not beyond our reach, but within our grasp. Together we can make a difference!