Earlier this month we realized that Judge Branford would have to retire half way through his term due to age restrictions for the bench. That fact was really only discovered when Russ Baldwin filed and read the requirements for judge. Up until then, it was not the reason why he was running against Judge Branford, as the age issue only came to light after Mr. Baldwin decided to run.
Cheryl Harle from BOSS 100.7 incorrectly stated that it was the main reason why Judge Branford was being challenged this time by veteran attorney Russ Baldwin. She clearly made her feelings known that it seemed unfair to be forced into retirement. However, it is not the real reason why Baldwin is challenging the incumbent. The voters should know that if elected, Judge Branford will be allowed to serve only 3 years of a six year term because of mandatory retirement at age 75. After Judge Branford is forced into retirement barely half-way through his term, the Governor will be the one to select his successor, likely someone not from the area and unknown and unaccountable to Lincoln County residents.
If you listen to BOSS 100.7 radio’s interview of Judge Branford broadcasted on March 28, he admits he is 71 years old and will be 72 when he starts a six year term if re-elected. It means he would be required by state law to retire half way through his next term at age 75. He even goes on to say that last year there was a statewide measure to raise the age of retirement for judges, which did not pass – even he voted against it. He said he is good with current law and will follow it.
It seems to me he just wants to have the sitting governor appoint some insider waiting in the wings as a favor.
I say let THE PEOPLE choose who will be their Circuit Court Judge for the next 6 years.