Attorney Justin Wall has his sights set on the top spot in a local courtroom.
Wall, who's been practicing law for five years, announced on Friday, Aug. 2, that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for Huntington Superior Court judge in the May 6 primary election.
He says he decided to announce his candidacy a full nine months before the primary so he can spend that time getting his name in front of the voters.
"It's going to be a contested election," Wall says. "I want to get my name out early."
Jeffrey Heffelfinger, also a Republican, currently serves as judge of the Huntington Superior Court. Wall says he's spoken to Heffelfinger about his plans and learned that Heffelfinger also plans to put his name on the primary ballot.
"I grew up here, I married here, I settled down here. I believe in this community," Wall says. "This is an opportunity for me to step into a leadership role and give back."
Wall, 36, is a lifelong Huntington County resident and a 1995 graduate of Huntington North High School. He earned an undergraduate degree in engineering and an MBA from Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and his law degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio.
Wall has law offices in Wabash and Bluffton, as well as Huntington, and says his experience in both civil and criminal proceedings in northeast Indiana courtrooms has given him the opportunity to observe effective programs that could be implemented in Huntington County.
In addition to his legal experience, Wall says he's also experienced in handling employees and budgets, tasks a judge must also handle in the court of his duties.
Wall says that as judge, he would utilize the county's new community corrections program "to the fullest extent possible."
He'd also like to replicate a Whitley County program that houses low-risk offenders in a converted motel, where the offenders pay for their housing but are also able to keep their jobs. The former Evergreen juvenile facility would be ideal to house that program, he says.
Ordering offenders to perform volunteer service would not only benefit the community but also put the offenders in contact with positive role models, he says.
Special courts to deal with drug offenders and veterans could provide customized rehabilitation programs for those people, he says, and could be funded through grants. Initial costs would eventually turn into savings as the recidivism rate of those offenders is reduced, he says.
He'd like to start a local domestic abuse counseling program, increase the amount of pre-divorce counseling required for couples with children and require mediation sessions for divorcing couples to give them an opportunity to work out their own divorce agreements.
He also wants to line up counselors to provide that mediation at low or no cost to low-income couples.
The filing period for the May 6 primary opens on Jan. 8. In addition to Superior Court judge, county offices on the 2014 ballot include prosecuting attorney, assessor, auditor, clerk, recorder, sheriff, surveyor, first district county commissioner and county council representatives for first, second and fourth districts.
All township trustees and all township advisory board members are also up for election next year, as are positions on the Markle, Roanoke and Warren town councils.
Both Republicans and Democrats will elect state convention delegates and Democrats will elect precinct committeemen.
A school board election will also be held in 2014, with voters selecting representatives for the board's second, third and fifth districts.