Hitson says people skills, common sense her strengths as judge

Editor’s note: The following is part of a question and answer series on candidates running in the municipal election on March 7. Candidates are asked questions regarding the city’s future.

Arla Hitson is running for election to the municipal judge’s position. Hitson will be running against Oscar Robinson and incumbent Fred Arnold.

1. What qualifications, certifications or training do you have relating to the job?

I have worked with people of all ages in various situations. I have good people skills. I have computer knowledge, record keeping knowledge, managerial skills, and lots of good common sense.

The state will furnish the training that is required of this position. The week after the election the state puts on a mandatory training for all newly elected municipal judges. After that they have an annual week-long training for all municipal judges.

In addition to this training, I have contacts that have the knowledge that I may need. They are just a phone call away whenever I have questions to which I do not know the answers.

2. What is the most serious element of this job in your estimation?

The most serious element of this job — making judgments that will affect a person’s life from now on.

Young people that will be coming before the municipal judge need and deserve to be treated with dignity, honesty, and respect. This first-time experience can be a deciding factor in how they react to the laws and authority for the rest of their lives.

3. What should a citizen expect of their municipal judge?

Fairness, respect, honesty. The American way is that every person is innocent until proven guilty and that is the approach that I would take with the people that appear before me.

4. What hours should the municipal court operate and why?

The court should be open the hours that are user friendly. People should not have to take time off from their jobs to pay their traffic fines. The court should be open before 8 a.m., during the lunch hour, and after 5 p.m.

5. How will you approach the balance of serving the public and backing up the authority of local police?

If a person is guilty, the statutes spell out what the punishment will be. When there is room for judicial judgment, I will weigh all facts and circumstances to arrive at a fair decision. Both the individual and the police officer will have the opportunity to present their case to me. I will listen with an open mind and not pre judge either party. The police department and I must work as a “team” to combat crime and the breaking of the laws in Portales.