Two newcomers are vying for the Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace position in the March 4 Republican primary election to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of incumbent Patty Larson.
Carrollton residents Tom Washington, 57, a certified public accountant and real estate broker, and Gary Blanscet, 63, an attorney, say they both have the experience and background that will allow them to better serve Precinct 6 and ensure fair and equal justice for all.
A justice of the peace presides over a Justice of the Peace court, which holds small claims court, hears Class C misdemeanor cases,conducts magisterial duties and performs weddings.
Denton County has six justice courts and the position is responsible for all administrative operations of the court, and they also hear both criminal and civil cases that fall within the court’s jurisdiction.
Justices of the peace in Denton County receive a salary of about $74,800 annually and serve four-year terms.
Blanscet says he has the characteristics that are required for any judge to ensure justice is served in every case.
“I am in a station of life where I can offer my background,training and skills as a lawyer to perform the legal services that are vital for fairly administering the law from the bench,” he said. “Interpersonal skills coupled with an ability to be open-minded and fair to all who will appear before me as a judge are components that mark my character.”
Blanscet said he’s not seeking the office because he believes he is “uniquely qualified.”
“Frankly, there are many who can meet the general qualifications for holding the office of justice of the peace,” he says. “But Ido believe that I am differently qualified and better suited to occupy the position during the next term of office.”
Blanscet has an extensive legal background, which spans nearly three decades. He has also served as the mayor of Carrollton from 1994to 1996 and as a council member from 1986 to 1994.
Washington’s priorities for the position are similar to Blanscet’s, but he said his background gives him an edge.
He says his longtime community leadership throughout Denton County and business background make him the perfect candidate for the position.
“As a businessman I have problem-solving and analytical skills that will help me make the best decisions on a case,” he said. “Those types of skills are not taught in law school.”
A justice of the peace should have a long record of contributing to the local community and acting as a leader in numerous activities spread throughout the Denton County community, Washington said.
Some of Washington’s volunteer efforts include work for theBoy Scouts of America as an assistant scoutmaster, as a director for the Homestead Homeowners Association board of directors, as a secretary and director for the Denton Central Appraisal District, as the foreman of the Denton County Grand Jury and as a Denton County special condemnation commissioner.
He has also served as a vice chairman of the Denton County Republican Party for more than eight years and as an elected state delegate for multiple conventions, as well as a national delegate in 2012.
“My record shows that I already have a long history of serving my community and the people who may vote for me,” he said.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @JDHarden.
PRECINCT 6 JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Background: Served as mayor of Carrollton, 1994-1996; member, Carrollton City Council, 1986-1994; member, Carrollton Zoning Board of Adjustments, 1984-1986; service for Carrollton also included membership on the Metroplex Mayor’s Association, membership on the board of directors of the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition, and serving as a voting representative on the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
Top priorities in this office: Provide and demand equal justice for all who appear for their day in court; use interpersonal skills coupled with an ability to be open-minded and fair to all who will appear before him.
Occupation: Certified public accountant, real estate broker
Background: 34 years of business experience; former trustee, Denton County MHMR board; assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop; director of the Homestead Homeowners Association; election judge; volunteer for Hebron High School and the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees on two bond issues and a task force; foreman of the Denton County Grand Jury; and currently assistant treasurer of the Denton County Republican Party.
Top priorities in this office: Provide sound leadership and analytical problem-solving developed as a businessman; provide equal justice to all; maintain a record of supporting a conservative philosophy and working within the Republican Party.