With the April 2 election less than two months away, Jefferson City municipal judge candidates fielded questions about their goals and the judge's roles during Thursday's Cole County Republican Club candidate forum.
While all of the candidates said the municipal judge must look at each case on an individual basis, they had their own goals if elected to the position.
The Jefferson City Municipal Court has several programs to help individuals who enter the court system, such as the DWI program. If elected as municipal judge, candidate and current City Prosecutor Brian Stumpe said he wants to continue growing these programs.
"A lot of times, people think you just take the key and throw it away. You did the crime, you do the time," Stumpe said. "But there are different people that are in court. There are people who just made a mistake. There are people who just didn't know better, and then there are thugs. You've got to be able to identify each of those treatments for people and determine what their proper punishment and treatment is and how they should pay their dues to society."
For candidate Angela Silvey, she wants to continue pushing municipal court reform, referencing some legislation currently being worked on that would give judges more opportunities and options. For example, if someone has a payment schedule with municipal court and they don't make that payment, she said, they could get a warrant for their arrest and have to sit in jail for a few days until the judge can look at their case.
"There's a bill going through the House (of Representatives) right now that would basically allow judges to go, 'OK, you've been in jail for three days and you owe $75. I feel like you have done your punishment,'" said Silvey, who is an attorney for Silvey & Associates. "What happens is they go to jail for two or three days, then they get out but they still owe ($75) so then they come back to municipal court and then they have to do a payment docket. We never get them out of municipal court. I would like to see those things change to help people in the community to focus on those ways so people aren't just sitting in jail and taxpayers aren't paying for people to sit in jail for a $100, $300 fine."
Candidate Tim Anderson said his main goal is to treat people fairly, referencing former President Abraham Lincoln as a role model.
"You have to treat people fairly and you have to treat them firmly, but there are times when justice says there should be mercy. There should be kindness in this circumstance," he said.
The municipal judge should also be impartial and hear cases on an individual basis while acting as a leader, Anderson added.
The judge should also be interactive with the community and help guide local youths, Stumpe said.
The municipal judge should not only help focus attention on the youths, Silvey said, but also pay attention to the mental health courts.
If elected to municipal judge, Silvey said compassion and understanding would be her key strengths.
"I am very good at looking at a situation and understanding whether or not that person maybe has some other deeper-rooted issues," she said. "That is very important, especially in this community. The people who are going to municipal court are the foundation of the community."
Having served as an assistant attorney general for Missouri for 29 years, Anderson said, he has witnessed different cases and worked with a variety of people, which allows him to help relate to others.
"If I had a strength it would be the ability to interact with people, to relate to people, to treat people kindly but at the same time firmly," he said. "Anyone who is a parent understands they have to draw the line on occasion."
The main purpose of the judge is to uphold the constitution and not allow personal relationships to cloud judgments, Stumpe said, adding he thought that would be his key strength.
"It's our job to hear the facts and apply the facts to law and make a decision," Stumpe said. "We all have liberties given to us. We've got to protect those liberties. If something is done wrong, we've got to have the integrity to say, 'That was done wrong.'"