Judicial candidates, 2018 general election voter guide

Editor’s note: This year in District 28 (Buncombe County), both Superior Court judges and five District Court judges are up for re-election and are all unopposed. For the sake of concise organization Xpress has listed them together in one page.

Superior Court

Alan Z. Thornburg

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

Among the most important qualities a judge should have are an even temperament, a heartfelt conviction that all participants in our justice system deserve to be treated with equal dignity, a commitment to being prepared, staying abreast of the changing law, and applying that law evenly and without bias. I strive to embody each of these qualities and to ensure that our courts are accessible, reflect respect for all members of our community and are run efficiently.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

Judges must always interpret the law and dispense justice without regard to external influences. Competence, fairness, impartiality and integrity should determine a judge’s fitness for the office.


Marvin Pope

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

A good judge should have extensive knowledge of the law in the courts he/she presides, should be considerate, patient, thorough in legal research, honest, fair and nonpartisan. A judge should also look to improve our system through alternative sentencing, rehabilitation of persons charged with crimes and offering mental health options. Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court is an effort I have participated in since 2011. It has been successful, with eight graduates since 2015 and no recidivism.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

Judicial elections should never be partisan. Politics should never enter any type of litigation, be it criminal or civil. In my 18 years as a judge, I’ve never cared, inquired or even thought about what political affiliation or beliefs a litigant held or if they were aligned with my political considerations. When judges are designated via a political party, this tells a voter nothing as to whether the person is suitable to hold the judicial position.




District Court

Susan Dotson-Smith

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

Serving as a judge for almost six years, after 20 years in private practice, I know that judges need to know the law and use sound discretion. I have a strong work ethic and am dedicated to improving the system. When applying the law to the facts before me, I am aware of the consequences of my decisions and the factors that influence decision-making. I am mindful that people deserve integrity, respect and compassion as part of their court experience.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

I am committed to an independent and impartial judiciary. I believe that nonpartisan races better reflect the nature of a judicial position. I would also like to see a minimum criterion set for those who would hold this position, as a judge needs to understand the law and exercise wise discretion. Having been selected by my peers, elected in a nonpartisan race and now running uncontested in a partisan race, I am grateful to serve the people of Buncombe County.


Julie Kepple

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

A judge should have judicial temperament, knowledge of the law, ethics, courage and integrity, experience and the desire to never stop learning. I possess the ability to apply the law to the facts and understand how a judicial decision will affect individuals. I communicate calmly and courteously. I maintain a high standard of conduct. I strive to exhibit courage to do what the law requires even if it isn’t popular. I continue to maintain humility in what I still have to learn.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

With this election, I will have participated in both partisan and nonpartisan elections over the tenure of my judicial career. I don’t have a preference for either type of race.


Ward Scott

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

A judge should have a knowledge and command of the law and the ability to apply the law fairly. A judge should be humble. I understand the citizens that appear before me have issues that affect the most important matters in their lives. With humility, I listen to them and apply, without prejudice, the law of our great state. I have over 20 years of courtroom experience and treat all citizens that appear before me with respect and dignity.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

I have no feelings, one way or the other, about judicial elections now being partisan.


Patricia K. Young

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

What qualities should a good judge have? And how do you demonstrate them? 

A good judge should be able to address complex issues in a fair and impartial manner with integrity. I demonstrate those qualities by conscientiously considering the issues presented and follow the law. I make difficult decisions based on the facts and law, not based on my personal views. It is important for a good judge to be knowledgeable of the law. I demonstrate that quality by researching legal issues and being prepared in order to competently apply the law.

How do you feel about judicial elections now being partisan?

I believe in the independence of the judiciary as a separate and distinct branch of government that should not be influenced by politics. Regardless of my personal views, I respect the authority of the General Assembly who ultimately decides whether judicial elections are partisan races. I am committed to being a neutral arbiter in all matters that come before me without any consideration to someone’s party affiliation.


Ed Clontz

Incumbent, Democrat, unopposed

Ed Clontz did not respond to repeated invitations to participate in the Xpress Voter Guide.

 

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