WARREN - Trumbull County Family Court Judge Richard James is being challenged for his seat by former state Rep. Sandra Stabile-Harwood, who is promoting a ''positive change'' in the court.
James, however, says that after more than 18 years on the bench, he has seen the number of programs offered by the court increase dramatically. James said changes have occurred without adding more employees.
''All governmental agencies find themselves in competition for funding, so it is crucial that elected officials use their allocation wisely,'' he said.
Harwood, who became a practicing attorney in 1991, worked as in-house counsel and chief administrative hearing officer for the Trumbull County Child Support Enforcement Agency from 1993 to 2002, establishing orders regarding paternity, child support orders and modifying existing orders.
Before being limited in the number of terms, Harwood served four terms in the state legislature, from 2003 to 2011, including chairing the House Judiciary Committee in her final term.
James passed the bar in 1981 after going to law school while working at Republic and LTV Steel. He then worked in private practice while serving as an assistant Warren law director.
Richard L. James
Address: Chevelle Drive S.E., Warren
Profession: Trumbull County Family Court Judge
Previous Office: former Warren assistant law director
Notable quote: ''Each and every individual that has come before me has been treated with absolute courtesy, dignity and respect.''
Address: Oak Forest Drive, Niles
Previous Office: state representative 2003-10
Notable quote: ''Cases must be heard in a timely manner, case management and trial plans followed so that those who use delay tactics do not run the court.''
He was appointed to the Family Court bench by the governor in April 1992, but lost in the general election in November of that year. He was re-appointed in October 1993 and won re-election in 1994, 2000 and 2006. If re-elected, James said it will be his final term.
Still, James said he and Judge Pamela Rintala have plans for developing new programs, which are still in the conceptual stage.
''The programs involve cooperation and interaction with other service-providing local agencies. One program we're working on would be a 'Big Brother' type mentoring program designed for at-risk youth, particularly lower income minorities,'' James said.
The courts are continuing to work with local school districts to cut acts of truancy, similar to a pilot program run between the court and Brookfield Local Schools, he said. The court also has a program being designed as an ''anti-bullying'' initiative, he said.
Harwood has been critical of James for an escape from the juvenile lockup a young gang member; James points out that the court reviewed the program in the Juvenile Justice Center and got the funds to physically fix the problem there.
''The court must demand and set the example of accountability and transparency to assure confidence in the court as well as to honor the oath we take to uphold the Constitution and individual rights," Harwood said.