Candidates running for judicial offices in the Amarillo area squared off on Tuesday night at the Amarillo Tea Party forum, highlighting experience as a key issue.
Those running for 320th District Judge, both Potter County Courts-at-Law and the Randall County Court-at-Law #2 bench were present, debating the issues. The key issue that arose multiple times throughout the evening was the issue of experience.
Steven Denny, an Amarillo criminal defense attorney, told voters why he should be elected as the 320th District Judge based upon his experience.
"I am the only candidate who has the knowledge to get right to work," Denny said.
Judge Pamela Cook Sirmon, who currently serves as the Potter County Court-at-Law #2 judge, told voters that she is running for the 320th District Judge spot because she and her staff members are up for a new challenge.
"We are ready and excited to try something different," Sirmon said.
Meanwhile, in other races, candidates also highlighted their experiences. Walt Weaver, a former prosecutor turned attorney, told voters that he has experience in prosecution, which will help him, if elected to the Potter County Court-at-Law #1 spot being vacated by Judge Corky Roberts.
"I've prosecuted homicides, rapes, indecency with a child," Weaver said. "If you can think of a crime, I've prosecuted it."
Len Walker, one of Weaver's opponents, also highlighted his experience as a prosecutor in preparation for the predominantly family law court.
"This isn't a time for learning on the job," Walker said. "I've got experience on both sides of the bench and I'm ready."
Kerry Brian Haney, an Amarillo attorney, also talked about his experience in his bid for Potter Court Court-at-Law #1. While Haney does not have experience as a prosecutor, Haney said that his experience as a referee and coach for high school sports has helped him make "real-life, real-time" decisions that have prepared him for office.
In the race for Randall County Court-at-Law #2, James Abbott said his experiences as a divorce lawyer have uniquely prepared him to take on the role of the judge.
"I've kind of become known as the divorce lawyer here in town," Abbott said.
Stewart Werner and Matt Martindale, both Abbott's opponents, highlighted their experience and ties to the community. Martindale talked about being a conservative, Christian who grew up in family of lawyers. Werner highlighted his experience and said that he has more experience than "both of his opponents combined."
Voters will make decisions on these judicial races in the March 6th Republican primary. For more information about the candidates, please visit the Amarillo Pioneer Voter Guide at https://www.amarillopioneer.com/voter-guide/.