Municipal judge race heats up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

Although it may have gone from short ditty to symphony-length, the song of the Ironton municipal judge's race remained very much the same at the Ironton Co-Operative Club's forum.

Candidates Kevin Waldo and Judge O. Clark Collins had plenty of time to make their cases for the judges' seat, but they remained focused on many of the points they have emphasized in the past.

As in the past, much of their discussion focused on the approximately $750,000 in the court's budget that has not been spent. Waldo has accused Collins of hoarding the funds.

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Collins emphasized that the money had allowed him to give $100,000 to the city of Ironton. He also discussed a $175,000 to $200,000 upgrade to the court's computer system in the future that will use some of the funds.

&#8220That will connect us to the Supreme Court, it will connect us to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it's a really updated system, it will be user-friendly and allow the public to get on our Web site and find their cases,” Collins said.

For his part, Kevin Waldo, who has discussed similar computer upgrades, focused on programs that he wanted to establish to help to decrease the amount of repeat offenders in the Ironton municipal court system.

&#8220I think it's very important not only to punish, but to try to make programs available to defendants to rehabilitate them and hopefully use counseling and efforts along those lines to where they will not violate the law anymore, or cause problems from law abiding citizens,” Waldo said.

When asked about qualities that they have that their opponents lacked, Collins touted his 24 years of experience in the judge's seat, contrasting it with Waldo's 17 years as assistant county prosecutor.

&#8220The difference I think in this race is the experience I bring to the job,” Collins said. &#8220Mr. Waldo's been an assistant county prosecutor, and he's prosecuted juvenile cases for 15 years, I believe. Then he has a real estate practice, and I believe he's indicated in the past that he does about 65 percent of that. That really has nothing to do with the municipal court. So there's a real contrast in the amount of experience between myself and Mr. Waldo.”

Later, Waldo turned Collins' record against him, attacking him for touting his high rate of DUI convictions.

&#8220I don't understand the DUI conviction rate being a conviction rate of Judge Collins,” Waldo said. &#8220It is a conviction rate that the prosecutor's office, as well as law enforcement should be taking credit for if there is credit to be given. The judge is an impartial person, he is like an umpire, he does not boast or brag about a conviction rate, of any crime, let alone DUIs.”

Collins insisted that no one had boasted about DUIs saying that he had never done that, and that he didn't care about conviction stats, but that it was important to get drunk drivers off the road.

The final curtain will go up on Nov. 8, when voters will decide on which &#8220song” they like best.