BY KRISTI REED
Democratic candidate Johnny Smith has a bachelor’s degree in pre-law, finished a course in contract law and has worked with the civil rights division of the Department of Justice on several cases.
Republican candidate Monica Durden said her 16 years of legal experience as a legal secretary and paralegal qualified her to hold the office of chief magistrate.
Republican incumbent candidate June Davis has served two terms as chief magistrate and acquired 1900 hours of advanced law-related training during her 20 years at the Winder police department. Davis has also completed 300 hours of judicial related continued education.
Each candidate said their legal experience qualified them for the job of chief magistrate.
The candidates also had the opportunity to explain what they felt was the most important issue facing the chief magistrate and how they would address that issue.
Durden said her first priority would be to find out what issues the people want to address. Her next priority would be to “obtain the safety of this community by applying the laws as they are written.”
Her final goal would be to develop a good working relationship with her staff, attorneys and law enforcement personnel.
Teaching the citizens what magistrate court does is Davis’ top concern.
“Magistrate Court is the people’s court,” she said. “Therefore, what I strive to do is make it user friendly.”
Davis said she and her staff have worked to provide sample forms, how-to brochures, and videos explaining how to present cases in Magistrate Court.
“I am committed to giving the citizens of Barrow County all the procedural advice and information they need in order to use our court,” she said.
Davis said her office also provides a no-cost mediation program for citizens that has been very beneficial in resolving conflicts without actually going to court.
Smith said it was important to him to teach the young people of Barrow County what the magistrate does.
“That would be the main thing I would do,” he said. “Make sure that not only the public knows, but the kids know, how the courts and everything work.”
Smith said he would work with other officials to bring a better quality of life to the citizens of Barrow County.
Durden and Davis will face each other again on June 26 and July 7 at the Barrow County Republican Party candidate forums. The June 26 forum will be held at Statham Elementary School. The July 7 forum is scheduled for Bramlett Elementary School. Both forums begin at 7 p.m.
The winner of the July 15 Republican primary will challenge Smith in November.