Candidates running for political offices or judgeships are essentially job seekers. As their prospective employers, we voters should scrutinize candidates just as we would job applicants and try to make sure we get the right person for each position.
Brent Benjamin is currently nearing the end of his first term as a state Supreme Court justice, and he will be running for another 12-year term. The West Virginia Record Editor Chris Dickerson recently asked Benjamin what he considers his biggest accomplishments.
Some highlights from that interview:
The high court: “First and foremost, our Supreme Court is stable and predictable. It wasn’t 12 years ago. And, personally, I think I apply the law fairly, and people see that I don’t legislate from the bench.”
Drug courts and veterans courts: “Ten years ago, they didn’t exist. Now, we’ve had more than 1,000 graduates. Statistics show that without programs such as these, about 85 percent of drug offenders go back to using drugs. That would be immensely expensive to the state.
“But with these types of programs, the recurrence rate is 14 percent for juveniles and 9 percent for adults. That means we’re turning lives around, restoring families, and restoring relationships. We are turning people back onto a successful path and saving the state of West Virginia tens of millions of dollars in incarceration costs and stopping that cycle of crime.”
Children's programs operated by the court: “We have a good system in place. We’ve made great strides with foster children and truancy programs. By keeping kids in school, we are making sure they have great futures.”
Business court: “[I]t has proven to be wildly popular with businesses. It handles these cases in a much more cost-effective and efficient manner, and it tries to resolve matters within a year. It's growing rapidly, and we’re getting great feedback.”
Benjamin sees among many West Virginians “a strong desire to change the direction of this state in a good way.” He shares that desire and deserves re-election.