In preparation for March’s primary, we endorsed a number of candidates for local judicial office. Among those races, two advanced into a runoff. In both of those races, our preferred candidate in the first round advanced into the second round. Specifically, M.L. Walker for 247th District Court and Tonya McLaughlin for Harris County Criminal Court at Law #10. Additionally, we have made a new pick in the Republican primary for the 311th District Court. We have reiterated the endorsements from our March articles below:
247th District Court
M.L. Walker is the exact type of centrist the Family District Court needs far more of. Judge Bonnie Hellums, after many terms on the bench, is retiring, and three candidates have filed to succeed her in the Republican primary. Among these candidates, Walker is the only hold who holds both the experience and the pragmatism needed to be a good Judge.
We got the chance to hear from Melanie Flowers earlier, and have been thoroughly impressed by her devotion and passion involving the issues, but we do have some big concerns regarding her lack of experience. Likewise with another candidate, John Schmude, though without the impressed part. It is Walker who has years of experience as an Associate Judge in the Family District Court, though she also has the capacity to be a fair-minded and middle-of-the-road jurist. We think voters would be wise to choose M.L. Walker next month in the Republican primary.
311th District Court
In this election, we originally endorsed Anthony Magdaleno. Alicia Franklin and the incumbent judge, Denise Pratt, however, were the ones who advanced into the runoff. While we certainly have many bad things to say about Pratt and good to say about Franklin, the issue is purely moot at this time because Pratt suspended her campaign recently and resigned from office. Accordingly, we endorse Alicia Franklin by default.
County Criminal Court at Law #10
The only open seat at the County judicial level, this bench has drawn a diverse slate of four candidates in the Republican primary. Among these candidates, we believe one would be the best addition to the courthouse. Ken Wenzel, a former Police Officer, does not appear to understand how key facets of the criminal justice work, and has a penchant for exaggerating details of his life. As such, we agree with the Houston Chronicle’s recent profile of this race: that voters would be quite wise to avoid Wenzel.
However, we also believe they would be wise to avoid Dan Spjut. Another former Police Officer, our qualms with Spjut rest in the fact that his campaign has largely been underwritten by pay-to-play slates by the aforementioned Polland and Hotze.
We further agree with the Chronicle that Tonya McLaughlin is the best candidate for this bench. It is worth noting, however, that Mary Heafner, a fourth candidate, is also a good pick for the office, though we especially admire McLaughlin’s long record and experience. Misdemeanor criminal courts deserve fair and balanced arbiters of the law, and this board believes McLaughlin best exemplifies these qualities.
The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, Sophia Arena of Houston, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority opinion of the board.