Current Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Westley is leaving that position of 15 years behind to pursue a different public office as the next Anderson County Judge.
As Justice of the Peace, Westley has seen to the disposal of over 28,000 cases and brought in revenue for the State of Texas and Anderson County of $3.7 million.
His current responsibilities include presiding over Class C misdemeanor criminal trials — both bench and jury, performing magistrate duties like setting bail, fines, etc. and doing inquests in cases of unknown or unnatural causes of death.
The roles of a county judge are similar, Westley said, with the only difference being that the county judge hears Class A and B misdemeanor cases and serves as the county's main financial officer, giving direction as to how the county will proceed financially.
Westley decided to run for Anderson County Judge after seeing some changes he felt were needed in the areas of security, budget spending, employee salaries, economic growth and more.
“The security issues of Anderson County are not being addressed properly,” Westley said. “There are things that have occurred in neighboring counties that we as a county need to work to prevent in our own county. We have ignored the wake-up call.”
Regarding budget issues, Westley said that, if elected, he has plans to reduce county judge conference expenses, to create a standardized employee pay scale, and to take care of the county's priority groups — employees, citizens, volunteer fire department and local veterans.
“They need to provide better support to VFDs, who provide medical assistance, work accident scenes as well as putting out residential and grass fires for our residents,” he said. “Our veterans need better access to filing claims and medical services. Because of what they have done for us, we owe it to them to care for their needs as well.