Glynn County and the Brunswick Judicial Circuit voters have a RARE opportunity this year to vote in a contested race for Superior Court Judge. This is the first contested Brunswick Circuit Superior Court race in 16 years and the first competitive challenger v. incumbent race in my memory.
I will vote for Mary Helen Moses for Superior Court Judge because I like that she (1) advocates open and modern court processes for the legal community and the public; (2) stresses the importance of listening and applying the law vs. advocating social policy; (3) conducts herself professionally with a temperament that inspires confidence; (4) is not involved in court transactions which may raise questions of nepotism.
Who are the candidates in this non-partisan race?
Both the incumbent and the challenger are impressive Republican women. Using Political Data Sources and Open Secrets.org, I checked primary voting records and donor reports:
- Judge Williams regularly votes in GOP primaries. Ms. Moses voted in both 2010 GOP primaries. Neither has voted in Dem primaries.
- Neither has donated reportable amounts to federal political campaigns in 2006, 2008, or 2010 (according to the Center for Responsive Politics) nor to state candidates (according to Political Data Systems).
- In addition Judge Williams was an active Glynn Republican in the 1980’s. And Ms. Moses is a member of the Golden Isles Republican Women.
I’ve listened and/or spoken to her at a meet and greet; 2 GOP breakfast programs which she attended (but which she was never invited to address as the program speaker); and at the Conservative Values Rally in St. Mary’s. I also questioned people I’ve known decades – people whose views I know and trust and who also have personal ties to Ms. Moses which predate any campaign. They said she was highly competent, conservative, and reputable – confirming what I’ve seen.
What have I read/seen firsthand about Judge Williams?
I first knew of Amanda Williams when she supported Mack Mattingly in his 1980 US Senate race. We’ve had a cordial acquaintance for decades. But I was away nearly 20 years and have nothing to do with the court system – unless called for jury duty – so our paths rarely cross. In August, she spoke at the Coastal Republican Women’s Club and told a very impressive story about her background, her family, and her pride in the drug court. During the Q&A session I asked her a few questions about the drug court. I was particularly interested if it could be thought of as a middle approach between “legalizing” some recreational drugs and prosecuting every offense to the fullest. She answered and elaborated on experiences around the country. The exchange seemed friendly and open.
She also was the program speaker at the October 16 GOP breakfast forum. Again her primary topic was drug court and drug court had been in the news that week so during Q&A I wanted to continue the friendly discussion. It wasn’t a good day to ask questions about the drug court or related policies. Judge Williams angrily berated me and went into a tirade “I don’t care what YOU think. You can express your opinions at the ballot box… I’ve seen how you ask questions in public and I don’t like it.” Our host Kevin Gough stepped in and added that she had yelled at him far worse in court. I said “so now I’m in the club?” and the mood lightened. Q&A continued and she answered at length – apparently willingly. But when I approached her after the program in a friendly way and said I didn’t know why she was so upset about questions, she again bellowed in my face and said “I have never been so insulted in 20 years.” I said “But it’s a Public meeting. Q&A is what we do” and she suggested I should come to her office at court to ask questions. Her anger was stunning. I have attended candidate forums since I was 8 years old (that’s a LONG time) and I have never before seen a candidate react this way.
News of her outburst generated calls to me asking what happened. I was told she frequently acted this way around professionals in court but this was the first angry outburst in public. It also made me start asking others about their experiences. Some verified and some disputed the claims you can easily find in various anonymous forums. Obviously some are reluctant to speak publicly. The best I can do is rely on my own experience and findings or experiences of people I trust. Anonymous rants can’t be trusted.
Judge Williams is a super achiever; a very strong person; very dedicated to her family and her mission in life. But her passionate social advocacy and temperament do not represent the objective, analytical, dispassionate demeanor I expect in court.
This year we have a choice. It’s time for a change.
Learn more about both candidates:
Mary Helen Moses
- http://www.ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Campaign/Campaign_ByContributions_RFR.aspx?NameID=7141&FilerID=C2010000437&CDRID=29428&Name=Moses,%20Mary%20Helen&Year=2010&Report=September%2030th%20-%20Election%20Year – (Sept 30 – contributors)
- http://www.ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Campaign/Campaign_Name.aspx?NameID=7141&FilerID=C2010000437&Type=candidate (all reports)
- http://www.ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Campaign/Campaign_ByContributions_RFR.aspx?NameID=1111&FilerID=C2006000460&CDRID=29000&Name=Williams,%20Amanda%20F.&Year=2010&Report=September%2030th%20-%20Election%20Year (Sept 30 – contributors)
- http://www.ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Campaign/Campaign_Name.aspx?NameID=1111&FilerID=C2006000460&Type=candidate (all reports)
Objective sources about this race:
- Court judge faces first challenge since 1994
- RUPA video Sept 20
- League of Women's Voters survey