Editorial note: This is the fifth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.
Steven Kirkland, candidate in the Democratic Primary for the 113th District Court (Harris County)
Texpatriate: What is your name?
SK: Steven Kirkland
T: What office are you running for?
SK: Judge, 113th District Court
T:What is your profession/occupation?
SK: Former Judge/Attorney
T: In just a few words, what does the office you are running for do and what are its responsibilities?
SK: The 113th District court is a civil court hearing cases involving personal injury, property damages, contract disputes and other civil complaints.
T: If you are running against an incumbent (primary or general), do you think the incumbent has failed? If so, why specifically?
SK: My opponent in the primary is not an incumbent. The winner of the primary will face a Republican appointed by Governor Perry last year.
T: What would be your three biggest priorities if elected?
SK: Access to our courts – and therefore to justice – for all; fairness; transparency & accountability
In every Court that I have served in, I have adopted procedures and programs to improve the process. In Municipal Courts, I created the Homeless Recovery Court that allows folks working their way out of homelessness to clear up old warrants by performing community service at their shelter or program instead of going to jail. In the 215th District Court, I mandated e-filing in all cases filed in my Court. I withdrew reference of tax foreclosure cases to the tax master and instead handled those matters directly. All of these are cost saving measures that increase accessibility to the courts and transparency in the decisions.
For more information please visit my webpage www.judgestevenkirkland.com
T: What distinguishes you from your opponent(s)? Why should people specifically vote for you?
SK: I have 12 years of judicial experience, 24 years of legal experience and over thirty years of community service to the people of Houston and Harris County. I have represented individual homeowners, international oil companies and Houston taxpayers. I have been on all sides of the Courtroom and have the legal and life experiences to serve you fairly, efficiently and with compassion.
I have over thirty years experience of activism and accomplishments in the community and the party. This is a solid tract record to show where my heart lies and how I will l serve you as a judge. I founded Avenue Community Development Corporation, an agency that has now built over 750 affordable housing units in the inner city. My historic preservation projects have been recognized many times by Preservation Houston. I was awarded the Government Friend of the Homeless for my work in creating Houston’s Homeless Recovery Court.
There are many tools from my life experience I have used to be a good judge. I am a recovering alcoholic. Twenty-nine years ago I faced addiction, turned my life around, and have not had any alcohol since. While this is a strength, it also means there is a past. Prior to recovery twenty-nine years ago, I was arrested several times for drinking inappropriately. I was fortunate to have survived my drinking years without harming myself or anyone else physically, and have managed to make amends to all who I have harmed emotionally. I speak from experience when I say I believe in the power of people to learn from their mistakes and improve their lives. This experience is a source of humility and compassion that I have used every time I took the bench.
T: What is the most important thing you have learned thus far in the campaign?
SK: Regardless of where people live in this community they have deep reverence for the idea of equality before the law. They look to their Judges to be the guardians of that equality. I understand and respect this and have the experience needed to protect this ideal.