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The three Republican candidates for Logan County Family Court judge laid out their positions on three issues and voters met the lone Democrat who faces the primary winner in November.
Logan County Family Court Judge candidate during Wednesday's debate. (EXAMINER PHOTO | T.J. HUBBARD)
Republicans Kim Kellogg-Martin, Dan LaRoche and Eric Stewart each answered questions on their view of drug abuse as it affects local families, the management of the court and how they would continue to provide services without asking for additional money. Democrat Bridget Hawkins introduced herself and gave a brief overview of her reasons for seeking the judgeship.
Ms. Kellogg-Martin said her young life taught her the foundation of family values and her 30-year career spanning private practice, as an assistant prosecutor, as the head of the Logan County Child Support Enforcement Agency and most recently as an administrator with the National Emergency Grant program have led her to seek the family court position.
Mr. LaRoche, currently a magistrate in family court, said he is the only candidate with judicial experience and has “sat in every seat in the courtroom” from being a victim of a violent crime at a young age, to his time as a defense attorney in the first half of his legal career to his position with the prosecutor’s office before accepting the magistrate appointment.
Mr. Stewart, currently the Chief Assistant Logan County Prosecutor, cited his trial preparation working on some of the most complex and high-profile local cases, his time as a juvenile court prosecutor, his 36-2 record of winning appeals before higher courts and his ability to effectively train and work with new employees in making his case for the judgeship.
Each of the three candidates said he or she would continue to focus on the Logan County Drug Court as the best means to combat the drug issues facing families and each presented cases for their administrative qualifications for the post.
Following the debate among the Republican candidates, each of the three and Ms. Hawkins offered their closing remarks.
Ms. Hawkins said she was the only one of the candidates on the slate to focus exclusively on the issues that come before the family court on a daily basis over of the entirety of her 22-year legal career.
“That’s what I do; that’s what I love,” Ms. Hawkins said. “I believe if I were elected, I would be an honorable and ethical judge.”
Ms. Kellogg-Martin said while each has unique qualifications, her qualifications demonstrate her commitment to families and the issues they face.
“All four of the candidates who appear before you tonight are qualified to serve as your judge ... but I believe I am the best candidate because I am the one who has a vision for a healthier Logan County court. I have a proven track record for getting things done,” she said.
Mr. LaRoche called out his opponents in the primary for their lack of recent experience in family court in his closing remarks.
“I would use my wide-ranging experience to achieve justice in every case,” he said. “I’m the only Republican candidate who is currently active in the family court. Neither of my opponents has ever appeared in front of me in 14 months and nearly 1,000 hearings. Action expresses priorities.”
Mr. Stewart said his focus on detail and commitment to protecting youths are his shining points.
“My approach in prosecutions is to get things right and to protect children,” he said. “I would get the law right and I would get the facts right. You want a judge that knows the law ... My experiences all show my track record of caring about youths.”
The winner of the November election will replace Judge Michael L. Brady, who is retiring after 23 years on the bench.