"I love my work in the criminal justice system," Judge John Ward said to Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Lakewood American Legion.
Running for re-election for a 10-year term in Chautauqua County court, Judge Ward explained to the group that in Chautauqua County there is one judge for all felony cases, which average 450 to 600 per year. Because of the heavy workload, most cases are settled by negotiation during a pre-indictment conference, he said, which avoids a lot of money-wasting effort. He finds this method judicious, fair and rapid.
"The population is declining, but the crime rate is escalating," Ward said.
He went on to elaborate that drugs are causing the increase in crime.
"Two interstate highways running through Chautauqua County bring drugs in from New York City, Buffalo and Rochester," Ward said.
He is against legalizing drugs, because "the floodgate would open." He is for drug treatment courts, however, which he feels have been seeing some success. Those who go through treatment courts must remain sober and drug-free for one year. They also receive job training and counseling. Other treatment courts available are for mental health and veterans' post-traumatic stress.
Ward received vocal approval from the audience when he stated, "I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms." He reminded those present anyone has the right to use deadly physical force if someone enters his or her home.
"If someone threatens you with physical force, you have the right to defend yourself," Ward said.
Tami Downey, spokesperson for STTPP, discussed the process to be followed for registering voters in the county. Rural districts were chosen to be targeted rather than the cities, where most citizens are registered.
"Every vote cast counts," she said. "All politics is local, really, truly giving a voice. It starts from the bottom up."
Members were reminded the present election will have a large impact on congressional races as conservative seats may be added. The group was informed that Tom Reed's conservative voting record stands at 91 percent, in contract to 18 percent for Brian Higgins. It also was noted that more than 50 percent of church-attending people are not registered to vote.