Judicial races are heating up before November elections as candidates vie for public opinion, stressing their experience and administrative effectiveness.
In the non-partisan 16th District Circuit Court Place 1 race, incumbent Jim Kitchens of Caledonia is pitted against challenger William Starks of Columbus.
For Kitchens, the race boils down to who has the most experience.
“I”ve been fortunate to have the job for eight years,” he said. “I”ve heard over 150 jury trials. I”ve been in the trenches.”
Kitchens, a former prosecuting attorney in Lowndes County, has heard close to 10,000 cases, he said.
But Kitchens has not been an attorney in a civil case, which limits his experience, Starks said.
Kitchens also said he”s an innovator in establishing a drug treatment and a pretrial division.
“Those are the kind of innovative things we”ve done, I”ve done,” he said.
But Starks says there is much more to do.
Starks stressed the need of transitioning to an online filing system to cut down on paper costs and increase transparency. He also said he would establish a “full drug court” for first offenders, which most districts in the state already have.
“I have over 10 years of experience on both the criminal side and the civil side,” he added. “My No. 1 priority is the fair and impartial administration of justice. I would bring fairness, integrity and innovation to our courts.”
Kitchens said the Mississippi Supreme Court is already working with counties to help them transition to online filing.
Both candidates stressed their conservative interpretations of the Constitution at a Starkville Tea Party meeting Saturday.
Kitchens compared himself to U.S. Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia, to which Starks replied, “We have similar answers.”
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