“I think I did pretty well for a guy who didn’t get any support from the big firms,” said Mitch Templeton, winner of last week’s election to choose a replacement for retiring 172nd District Court Judge Donald Floyd. “I’m not reliant on donations from any specific individuals or groups, so I will be able to make correct rulings without fear.”
Republican candidate Templeton edged out Democrat rival Melody Chappell despite a $57,000 fundraising disparity in her favor. Chappell had secured the Democrat nomination despite being outspent by her opponent, Tina Bradley. In short, the judgeship was won by the candidate who spent the least amount of money campaigning.
Though their contributions were good for the local economy – benefiting print, broadcast, online, and specialty advertising interests – plaintiff firms and attorneys have nothing else to show for the tens of thousands of dollars they “invested” in the race.
Chappell, a self-avowed admirer of Judge Floyd, had promised to carry on “his legacy,” and the trial bar clearly wanted her to do so, but a slim majority of voters did not share their admiration for the imperious Floyd, refused to get on the big-bucks bandwagon, and decided instead to put an end to his dubious legacy.
“Jefferson County has been dominated by one party for 150 years, and people want change,” Templeton said, by way of explaining his upset victory. “A viable multi-party system creates accountability.”
Accountability would be a nice change of pace after 30 years of “King Floyd,” a change that wasn’t to be expected from either of the Democrat candidates vying to replace him as a darling of the trial bar.
“I ran on an anti-establishment, anti-corruption platform, and I intend to live up to that,” Templeton promised. “I also intend to run an open courtroom. You don’t gain public confidence by doing things in a backroom.”
Templeton offers the possibility of accountability. As the only Republican of four judges presiding over the county’s civil district courts, he may deliver. That would be a legacy to be proud of.