ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County Democrats will have a rare contested primary race on the May 6 ballot with two Mount Carmel attorneys, both of whom are experienced municipal judges, seeking the nomination for sessions judge.
The candidate who wins the primary — either Mount Carmel Municipal Judge Terry Risner or Surgoinsville Municipal Judge Chris Raines — will challenge incumbent Republican Hawkins Sessions Court Judge J. Todd Ross in the Aug. 7 county general election.
Both candidates are profiled in alphabetical order.
— Chris Raines ran for sessions judge in 2006 and was narrowly defeated. He said he believed then, as he does now, that he can do a better job than the incumbent.
Raines served as an interim sessions judge for four months prior to the 2012 election, and during that time he felt he proved that he could effectively manage the job and position. Raines said he believes the citizens of Hawkins County deserve a judge that is "deliberate, proven, and balanced."
A 1966 graduate of Surgoinsville High School, Raines earned a B.S. degree in business management from Virginia Tech in 1970.
He worked a full-time job while attending law school at night and received a juris doctor degree from Memphis State University in 1976.
After working as an insurance claims adjuster and contractor, Raines began practicing law in 1986 and opened his own practice in Mount Carmel in 1989.
"As a practicing attorney, I have successfully handled thousands of cases in all levels of courts in East Tennessee," Raines said. "I expanded my practice by adding a Rule 31 Listed Mediator's Certificate. I have had the opportunity to serve many attorneys, couples and businesses in this capacity. My service as a (Church Hill and Mount Carmel) city attorney and municipal judge has also provided leadership and stability within Hawkins County."
Raines added, "All of these experiences help me make balanced decisions concerning punishment, or damages, in cases typically heard by a general sessions judge."
Raines said he advocated the creation of a drug court eight years ago and continues to support its use in "appropriate circumstances." He stated, however, the operation of a drug court must never endanger officers or create security risks.
"Its implementation and operation must be tempered by requisite security and accountability," Raines said. "It is a tool, not the only answer to our drug problems. I believe that the community service program is being underutilized and can make a greater difference in the appearance of our county plus increase awareness of the court's effect outside of the courtroom. Those who commit crimes must be held accountable for their actions."
Raines added, "My goal is to run an efficient, transparent court that administers justice fairly and responsibly without placing unnecessary burdens on court personnel or law enforcement officials."
Raines noted that he has an "unblemished record" and plans to continue to hold himself and the court system to this standard.
"If elected, I vow to uphold the honor and dignity of the Hawkins County General Sessions Court," Raines said.
— Terry Risner has served the public throughout his adult life, first as a high school chemistry teacher and now as an attorney and municipal judge.
He said his decision to seek the position of general sessions judge is a continuation of that service.
Risner is licensed to practice law in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, and has spent many hours in courtrooms in all three states.
He has served as Mount Carmel municipal judge since 1998, and he said his election as general sessions judge will allow him to provide public service in another capacity.
"I have spent my entire professional career in positions requiring substantial and personal interaction with individuals and groups of people," Risner said. "No other candidate for this position can match my level of experience. I have served as employee and employer, as subordinate and supervisor, as student and educator. I currently serve simultaneously as an attorney and as a judge. I believe that this wealth of education and experience makes me the most qualified candidate."
Among Risner's goals as judge are to advance our legal system through fair, firm and conscientious service to the citizens of Hawkins County and to spend time in our communities meeting with concerned individuals and groups, insuring a constant exchange of information and ideas between the court and those whom it serves.
"I intend to personally interact with other professionals at multiple levels to insure that our court operates at peak efficiency," Risner said. "To assist in avoiding future problems, I will seek to spend time in our schools. As a former teacher, I want to discuss legal issues and concerns with our students. I see this as a vehicle to teach more responsibility to our youth, a valuable lesson for them as they prepare to move into their adult years."
Having grown up in a household of four brothers, one sister and two cousins, and supported by a loving coal miner father and dedicated mother, he said he understands difficulty and personal sacrifice struggling families make.
Risner added, "I bring an unmatched sense of urgency, combined with a lifetime of education and experience. This background is unique among our judicial candidates. I will serve Hawkins County honestly, fairly and with total dedication to the needs of my constituents."comments powered by Disqus