News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, July 26, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Election Day is next Tuesday, and for the first time in some time, Chief Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet has a challenger.
One candidate's personal finances almost cost him a spot in the race, and the other candidate says he is running scared.
"Bankruptcy? Why in the world are you qualified to run for this office?" we asked Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders who is running for Superior Court Judge.
"My bankruptcy has nothing to do with the way we run the office," he replied.
Saunders gave us the inside story on our weekly radio segment on 96.3 KISS FM with Fattz and Cher. His run has been filled with challenges to his candidacy due to personal financial troubles.
"I have a full-time law practice," Saunders said. "But the demands of juvenile court are such, and I give of my time such, that I have created an imbalance."
A motion to have Saunders dismissed from a case because of his troubles was slammed as a "frivolous and reprehensible attempt to embarrass a sitting judge running for elected office." The latest motion challenging his run for office was dismissed this week.
"Do you feel this is a coordinated attempt to try and knock you out of the race?" we asked.
"Of course it is," Saunders said.
"How are you feeling about this campaign?" we asked Overstreet.
"Well, you always run scared. You have to give it 110 percent. I'm not taking anything for granted," he said.
Overstreet points to the new judicial center and accountability courts as successes of his 20-year tenure. During that time he appointed his now opponent, Judge Saunders, to the bench.
"They were qualified under the law to hold those positions," Overstreet said. "We were trying to seek some diversity and that's what we did."
Saunders has a lot riding on this race. Sept 30th will be his last day as a juvenile court judge. Overstreet says experience counts and he hopes the community agrees.