Judicial Endorsements and Down Ticket Races in North Carolina
October 14, 2008
Well, we are at less than
30 6 days 10 hours to election time and it is time for my annual Judicial Endorsements post (and a few other races you may not know much about).
NC elects all of our Judges, we do not have an appointment system or retention elections. This is a great system in the sense that there is very little "inside politics" going on, but it is also a not-so-great system because most citizens have virtually no idea who the judicial candidates are, OR what "qualifies" someone to be a good Judge.
So I am setting out below who I endorse this election. My criteria for endorsement is that the Judicial candidates must be experienced, show judicial demeanor, be impartial, and be fundamentally connected to the preservation of individual constitutional rights and consumer rights.
CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE GUIDE in PDF format: Download 2008_voting_guide_1.pdf
NC STATEWIDE JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS
NC SUPREME COURT
Suzanne Reynolds – Supreme Court (Edmunds seat) www.suzannereynolds.org
Professor Reynolds (as I have always known her) is a family law professor (and my ethics law professor) at Wake Forest University School of Law. She is one of the foremost experts in Family Law in this state. She's been a professor for 27 years. Family Law expertise is vitally important to our High Court because behind most family law questions are real people needing real justice.
Kristin Ruth – Court of Appeals (Tyson seat) www.judgeruth.com
Sam J. Ervin, IV – Court of Appeals (Tyson seat) www.ervinforcourtofappeals.com
So this endorsement is a tie. Both candidates listed above are highly qualified and either would make an excellent addition to the Supreme Court.
North Carolina Court of Appeals
Jim Wynn – Court of Appeals www.judgewynn.com
Judge Wynn is the incumbent and consistently writes well reasoned and well balanced opinions. He's a Navy veteran, he's been talked about as a Federal Judge, and he's endorsed by EVERY major newspaper in NC. This race is a no brainer.
Cheri Beasley – Court of Appeals (McCullough seat) www.judgecheribeasley.com
Linda Stephens – Court of Appeals www.judgelinda.org
Judge Stephens is the incumbent. She's been on the COA for years and has shown herself to be insightful and well balanced in her opinions. She's well liked by almost all lawyers who appear before her. Keep Linda Stephens.
John Arrowood – Court of Appeals www.judgearrowood.com
John Martin – Court of Appeals (unopposed)
"DOWN TICKET" Candidates
I usually confine my endorsements to the Judicial Elections, but this year I'm going to make a few recommendations for the "down ticket" races. While these races are partisan, most of us don't have a lot of contact in our daily lives with the issues controlled by the down ticket races. As a lawyer, my life and my client's lives can be deeply changed by the rules and regulations promulgated by these positions. If you vote straight ticket, you need to read these.
Roy Cooper – Attorney General www.roycooper.com
Roy Cooper is the incumbent. He's consistently been willing to intervene in "hot topics" and do "the right thing". Example: Cooper's office stepped into the highly politicized Duke Lacrosse case and cleared the players of wrongdoing. He's provided good leadership to our Attorney General office and has been a strong advocate for consumer protection laws, cracking down on bad mortgage lenders, unfair "pay day" lenders, and fraudulent car sales. He has a particularly strong record of pursuing "identity theft" operations.
Janet Cowell – State Treasurer www.janetcowell.com
Janet is usually well qualified for this job. A Wharton School of business graduate, she can certainly keep our state retirement funds safely invested during troubling economic times.
Elaine Marshall – Secretary of State www.elainemarshall.org
Elaine Marshall is simply wonderful. She has automated and computerized all of the corporate records in North Carlina, saving businesses and lawyers millions of dollars in lost time because we don't have to manually record and search for records of incorporation. Her office is responsive and helpful. She well liked by both parties and should remain in her office.
Wayne Goodwin – Insurance Commissioner www.waynegoodwin.org
In my mind, this is the MOST IMPORTANT downticket race this year. Not many people know this, but North Carolina enjoys very low insurance rates because we are one of very few states where the Commissioner of Insurance has final authority to set rates. In other words, insurance companies MUST request rate increases from the Commissioner of Insurance and must prove why they deserve a rate hike. Our long time incumbent Commissioner Jim Long has a long record of refusing unnecessary rate hikes, and as a result consumers and businesses have saved an incredible amount of money on insurance premiums. Wayne Goodman is a lawyer, a consumer advocate, and has been Jim Long's "right hand man" for many years. We can count on him to keep the Insurance Commissioner's office as an advocate for the people of North Carolina.
Goodwin also pledges, like his boss,Long did, to fight any effort by Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.C. to convert from nonprofit to for-profit status, as well as to use the very limited powers available to his office to hold BCBS to its historic public-interest role in health care. Goodwin's opponent, by accounts a nice guy, was a long time Democrat turned Republican who has no experience in insurance regulation.
Mary Fant Donnan – Labor Commissioner http://www.maryfantdonnan.com
The NC Labor Commissioner is responsible for a few more things than just inspecting elevators. One of the more powerful duties is overseeing all OSHA investigations in North Carolina. OSHA, in essence, keeps the workplace safe, and the enforcement of OSHA laws sometimes means life or death to workers. Under our current commissioner, the labor department has been decidedly "pro-business" which translates roughly as "anti-worker." Donnan served as director of research and policy for the Labor Department under former Commissioner Harry Payne, one of the most capable labor commissioners the state has had. She is well-prepared to enact reforms in the Labor Department. The Charlotte Observer has good piece on why our current Labor Commissioner should be replaced: LINK TO OBSERVER ARTICLE
Beth Wood – State Auditor www.bethwoodcampaign.com
The State Auditor keeps our government honest with our tax dollars. The current Auditor has used his position to wage many political wars and is currently locked in a battle with the Governor's Ethics Commission. The Auditor should truly run along non-partisan lines, and Beth Wood seems the perfect fit for the job. She has been a Certified Public Accountant for 20 years and served in the State Auditor's Office for more than a decade under two different administrations.
Ronnie Ansley – Agriculture Commissioner www.ansley4ag.com
Ansley received a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education from North Carolina State, a Master’s degree in Agriculture Education from Clemson, and a law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. He is presently serving as the National President of the Future Farmers of America Alumni Association.
He advocates that we must invest in renewable-sustainable green energy sources for fuel production.
For the animal lovers out there, you might be interested to know that the Ag Commissioner is responsible for setting the euthanasia standards for animals in North Carolina.
The winner of the race for NC Commissioner of Agriculture will greatly determine how homeless cats and dogs die in our state. The incumbent, Steve Troxler, favors keeping the gas chamber as a method of euthanasia. Gassing is a horrible way to die; it is often reported that animals cry, defecate, urinate, claw to get out, fight each other, vomit, etc.
National humane organizations recommend injection of sodium phenobarbital as the preferred method of euthanasia.
Ronnie Ansley, has said, “I believe we should always look to the most humane way to handle euthanasia, and I do not believe gas chambers are the way to handle this issue.”
Wake County Judicial Elections
Most of the local Judicial races are "unopposed" and so we don't need to discuss those. Don't be frustrated by not having a choice. No choice means that the local attorneys feel that the Judge is doing a good job and therefore no lawyers feel the need to "run against" the incumbent. That's good news, really. Of course, opposed races don't mean anything bad about the incumbent, just that someone decided to run. Don't read into it either way is what I'm saying.
Here are my recommendations in the contested races:
Jacqueline L. Brewer (incumbent) District Court Judge
Judge Brewer is the incumbent who was appointed to a new seat by our current governor. She came from the prosecutors office after 26 years there and by all accounts has been a great Judge.
Anna Elena Worley,(open seat) District Court Judge
Anna Worley is a:
I've known Anna since undergraduate days at Wake Forest. She's amazingly fair minded and knowledgeable. Her knowledge of family law is a very important attribute for the District Court as the District Courts handle about 99% of family law disputes. Anna won the primary election by almost 10,000 votes over her opponent in this election. She'll be fair and hold everyone to the burden of proof they have. While her opponent is a very nice guy and a good lawyer, he's recently been arrested for a second DWIwhich I believe would compromise his ability to be a District Court judge because if he is convicted (his first court date is October 17th) he could be subject to sanctions from the Judicial Standards Commission. I realize that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes and everyone is innocent until proven guilty but this is a very recent mistake, during an election and would mean we are electing a Judge entering the office under the cloud of a controversy. District Court judges are the court officials that decide guilt and innocence for DWI convictions. To me, this seems like a real problem to be both the defendant and the Judge.
Christine Walczyk (incumbent) District Court Judge
Judge Walczyk attended the University of North Carolina School of Law at Chapel Hill and went on to open her own law practice in Raleigh. She's the incumbent and is well liked and respected for her judicial demeanor.
Her opponent in this race has been criticized for unprofessional behavior. In 2003, before the Wake Public Defender's Office was created, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens barred Rand (her opponent) from representing indigent clients where the State pays for the legal defense. Here is the full article from the N&0.
YOUR VOTE COUNTS- Verify your voting status and vote early
If you want information about your local race, you can view a personalized sample ballot (and check on your registration status) at the NC State Board of Elections website. Just enter your name and you can verify your voting status, voting location, and view a full sample ballot for your voting precinct.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, and "early voting" (one stop voting) begins Thursday October 16 through Saturday November 1st. Wake County Early Voting information can be found here on the Wake County Board of Elections Website. State wide early voting information can be found here at the State Board of Elections One-Stop Voting Guide.
Exercise your right to vote!
CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE GUIDE in PDF format: Download 2008_voting_guide_1.pdf