The on again—off again debate over elected judges in St. Joseph County could soon be on again.
In fact, the war of words came close to restarting Wednesday afternoon at the Indiana Statehouse where local supporters and opponents flocked to express their concerns.
At a meeting of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, an amendment had been drafted and offered that called for non-partisan elections for St. Joseph County Superior Court Judges.
The fact remains that St. Joseph County is one of only two in the State of Indiana where superior court judges are appointed by the governor, instead of elected by the public at large.
“I think we should start moving toward being on an equal footing with other counties in the state, unless you live in St. Joseph County or Lake County your judges are elected, so I believe that the voters of St. Joseph County are just as smart and just as capable as choosing their judges as voters in Marion County or Allen County,” said Jake Teska, Executive Director of the St. Joseph County Republican Party.
While some are ashamed of St. Joseph County’s system of selecting judges, others are proud of it.
“It was a system I felt worked very well, I never had any concerns about any partisanship as a part of it, I felt like it was set up very fair and balanced and my feel is if Indiana was going to make any changes in how judges were done the other 90 counties ought to move where St. Joe and Lake Counties are rather than St. Joe and Lake move to where the rest of the state are,” said St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea.
Both Rea and Teska went to Indianapolis to testify, only to be told at the last minute that the amendment would not be heard. St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Roland Chamblee also attended the hearing as did attorney William Jonas with the St. Joseph County Bar Association.
Still, Wednesday’s false alarm was also a warning shot that the issue was far from settled.
The author of the amendment, Rep. Timothy Wesco, (R) Osceola, said he may try to offer it again