Sunday, February 11, 2007

I'm running; no, I'm not; yes -- no, wait . . .

I got a call a few weeks ago from some Democrats I know here. They happen to head up the Democratic Party in my county, and they wanted me to run for magistrate district justice in one of the three county districts. I didn't say yes right away because I wanted to think about it, and because I needed to make sure there were no legal impediments to my running, such as my not meeting the residency requirement.

Thanks to Stobex's legal research, Iwill have been a resident of this county for more than a year by the date of election, which is what the regulations say is needed. After checking out a couple other things, I said sure why not? I'm a lawyer, this is a judgeship, I'm a fair and reasonable person, and a great judge of character (if hopelessly immodest) so why not?

Then I started to talk to people, and they were all very nice to me, and all very encouraging, but I began to see that I am probably unelectable. I have two strikes against me, and while either might be sufficient to make it impossible to win, the two together are a death knell. First, I'm a lawyer. Yeah, I know -- I thought the same thing! That ought to make it easier, not harder, right? Well, no. I gather the fine voters of my county takes actual pride in electing regular folks to be "the people's judge." The only lawyer anyone can think of who has held this post was appointed. And the guy who's on the bench now was a bank teller. Oh-kay.

But the real problem is that I'm not from around here. I didn't grow up here, go to school here, take sides when so-and-so had that long-standing feud with what's-his-name, etc. I don't have family here, my daddy and his daddy before him weren't born here, and . . . well, you get the idea. Now, the nice folks who asked me to run identified this as a problem, but they thought it could be turned to an advantage as well -- I'd be fair, judicious, unbiased, and the like. But I think it's basic: too many people would feel, "I don't want some stranger deciding issues round here." And that's fair enough.

Mind you, I'd do a great job. I know that, and I suspect the people I've talked with know that. But "best qualified" doesn't always translate into "easiest to get elected." So when a smart, capable, non-lawyer, third-generation local came forward and said she wanted to run, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and mentally stopped running. Dodged a bullet, I did!

So, no, I'm not going to put the Mag into Magistrate. But thanks, Coffee J. for the campaign slogan!

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