Gary Henderson promises to be firm and fair as a judge. He believes he has the temperament, attention to detail and compassion to be a great judge.
Roy Wiggins believes he has the experience, wisdom and demeanor to be an effective judge. He says the wisdom gained through his more than two decades of practicing law will help him make the difficult decisions judges must make each day.
Henderson, who has spent much of his career handling child-support enforcement, and Wiggins, a former prosecutor, are vying to replace retiring District Judge Tom Moore, one of Charlottes toughest judges.
Five lawyers had hoped to win Moores judgeship. Wiggins and Henderson were the top vote-getters in Mays primary and now will face each other in next months general election.
Of the five lawyers vying for the judgeship, Wiggins received the highest marks in a statewide survey by the N.C. Bar Association evaluating the lawyers seeking to oust judges or replace judges not seeking re-election.
Wiggins got a 4.47 rating on a scale of 1 to 5 for his overall performance. He received a 4.50 rating for integrity and fairness, a 4.39 rating for legal ability and a 4.57 rating for professionalism.
A rating of 5 is excellent, 4 is good, 3 is average, 2 is below average and 1 is poor.
Henderson received a 3.61 rating for his overall performance. He got a 3.99 rating for integrity and fairness, a 3.48 rating for legal ability and a 3.98 rating for professionalism.
Henderson described his scores on the survey as pretty good. But he called the survey results unreliable because only about 5 percent of the lawyers in Mecklenburg County responded to the survey. That response rate, he said, was too low for the results to reflect what lawyers think about judicial candidates.
Henderson, 42, says he believes judges should be firm yet concerned enough to also refer offenders to programs that will help with their rehabilitation.
I believe we need more judges that are concerned about the root causes that bring many people before the court and will seek to deal with these issues while the person is in our court system, he said. By dealing with the root causes, whether it be some type of addiction, lack of employment, mental issues or educational barriers, judges can help reduce the number of repeat offenders.
Henderson described himself as passionate about helping families and children.
I have served as an attorney for Mecklenburg County Child Support Enforcement for the past eleven years fighting for the financial stability and support of families and children, he says. I have a proven track record of public service both in and out of the courtroom, and the people of Mecklenburg County can trust that I will serve them with integrity, dedication and excellence.
Henderson says he has more than a decade of experience managing District Court dockets for child support on a weekly basis.
I have a proven track record of effectively handling one of the busiest courtrooms in the courthouse, he said. Even with the fast pace and heavy dockets, I have always maintained my professionalism and attentiveness to customer service.
While I have had experience with every aspect of District Court, the great majority of my experience has been in practicing family law which has given me temperament, attention to detail and compassion necessary to be a great District Court judge.
Henderson said his priorities as a judge would be refining systems to effectively and efficiently move cases along and building partnerships with outside help organizations so that the judicial system would have more resources and options to help offenders.
Wiggins, 51, believes his more than two decades of legal experience qualifies him for the judgeship.
I have served as both an assistant district attorney and private lawyer, he said. As an assistant district attorney, I prosecuted cases in both District Court and Superior Court. As a private lawyer, I have appeared in District Court almost daily.
I have also handled thousands of cases in all areas of District Court, including criminal, civil, traffic offenses, family law and other matters. Further, in this nonpartisan race, it is important to note that I have the support of attorneys and officials from both political parties.
Wiggins pointed out that his peers gave him good marks in the N.C. Bar Association survey. He points out that his was the highest rating for overall performance among all the nonincumbent judicial candidates in Mecklenburg County.
A District Court judge who has the support and respect of the persons who appear before the court will be much more effective, Wiggins said.
Wiggins, noting that hes practiced law for 22 years, said hes ready to serve his community in a new capacity as District Court judge.
This community has been good to me as I have raised my daughter here, been an active member of my church and represented thousands of my fellow citizens in my capacity as an attorney, he said.
I want to use my experience, both practical and legal, as District Court judge. I have been urged by my peers to seek this position for years and feel that now is the time to step forward and offer myself to serve in this very important position.
Wiggins said one of his priorities as a judge would be to improve the efficiency of the courts so that parties receive full, fair and prompt hearings. He said he would be involved in the community in ways that help the public better understand how the courts work so that citizens can better use and access the countys justice system.
Wiggins said the most important issue in the race is his vast experience and the overwhelming respect and support of his peers as shown in the N.C. Bar Association judicial performance survey.
These factors, along with my practical life experience of 51 years, make me the most qualified candidate, he said.