Incumbent James Westley will seek a third term in office as Anderson County precinct 4 justice of the peace, saying he has worked to fulfill his original campaign pledges.

The 51-year-old Westley was first elected in 1998, becoming the first Republican to win an Anderson County race since Reconstruction at the time. He claimed a second term in 2002 without opposition, but will face a pair of Republicans — Henry R. Kitchens and Mary Lane — in the March 7 primary.

"When I originally ran in 1998, I promised to be a full-time justice of the peace," said Westley, who served as a Palestine city councilman and mayor pro-tem during the mid-1990s. "I promised to make fair and impartial decisions as a jurist and be involved with the youth. I've fulfilled that."

Since assuming office, Westley said his court's caseload has "more than tripled," adding he has attained roughly 200 training hours relating to the functions and duties of a justice of the peace.

Westley said he hears between 85 and 120 school attendance cases per year, with many of those students ultimately earning their high school diploma. He views having a positive influence on young people as one of the most important aspects of his job.

"By working with the schools, juvenile services and ACCESS, fortunately I see names every year that we've all had a hand in getting across the stage," Westley said.

Westley has an associates in arts degree from Trinity Valley Community College and is classified as a senior at the University of Texas at Tyler with a major in interdisciplinary studies. He is also a member of Westwood Baptist Church where he teaches "kiddie church."

Westley and his wife, Cindy, have four daughters, a son and two grandchildren.

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Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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