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MEET THE CANDIDATES: Parker County Court-At-Law 1 – Weatherford Democrat

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Updated: March 31, 2022 @ 1:59 pm
Serving Weatherford and Parker County Since 1895

Three candidates are looking to occupy the vacancy left by former Parker County Judge Jerry Buckner. Those candidates include Kirk Martin, Zachary Pettigrew and Kitty Wise. Each candidate was sent a questionnaire seeking information about their background, education and experience, as well as their approach to certain issues. Candidates’ response appear in the order candidates are listed on the ballot.
 
Age: 39
 
Occupation: I have been a licensed attorney practicing primarily in Parker County since 2010 and Partner at M&P Law Offices since 2016
 
Education/background: I attended Aledo ISD and graduated from Aledo High School in 2001, attended Henderson State University on academic and athletic scholarship playing football and graduated in 4 years with a bachelors’ in finance.  After a year of working, I attended Texas Wesleyan University School of Law–now Texas A&M University School of Law.  I graduated with my JD in 2009, was licensed, and began practicing in Willow Park in 2010.  In 2016, I partnered with Tim Mendolia to form M&P Law Offices.  My wife Tricia and I live in Willow Park with our 7 year old son, 5 year old daughter and 8 yr old dog, Gillie.
 
Relevant experience for this office: Since April of 2010 I have been in general practice.  Daily for the past 12 years, I have represented clients in family litigation, including representing parents and children in CPS matters, criminal defense, and other general civil litigation such as residential construction disputes, land and border disputes, contract disputes, probate disputes, and many other areas of law.  My broad knowledge of multiple areas of law and litigation practice for the past 12 years has prepared me for this position.  I believe it makes me uniquely qualified for this position.  The judge of County Court at Law #1 will see a variety of disputes; I have the relevant practice experience and knowledge of the rules of evidence and procedure necessary to preside over the cases that will come before the Court.
 
How long have you resided in the coverage area: I have been a Parker County resident on and off for 28 years.
 
Website or page where people can find out more about your campaign: 
www.zachpettigrew.com or on Facebook @PettigrewforJudge
 
Q: Aside from being an attorney, what skills/talents do you hope to bring to this position?  
A: I’m not sure that it would be considered a “skill/talent” but I hope to bring back the belief that the court belongs to the people.  This would not be my court; I would only be a temporary place filler elected by the people to follow the Constitution and the law.  In my experience, too many judges get on a bench and believe that the court is now his or hers.   I serve at the behest of the people.  When I am elected, all those entering the Court will receive my attention and my respect; and at the same time, the Court, in turn, will demand respect.
 
Q: Have you practiced law before the court where you hope to preside? If so, what changes, if any would you like to see?
A: I have practiced before County Court at Law 1 for the past 12 years.  I would like to implement an uncontested case docket at least once per month, and more preferably twice per month.  
 
Q: Describe your relationship with the county bar and how that best recommends you to this elected office.
A: I have a strong relationship with the Parker County Bar.  I am a member of the Parker County Bar Association and have been for my 12 years of practice.  I have served as the vice president and secretary of the Parker County Bar and regularly attend Parker County Bar Association meetings.  Practicing in Parker County is enjoyable because the people in the local bar are generally much more realistic and reasonable than some surrounding counties.
 
Q: What would you bring to this office that your challengers may not?
A: I can’t speak to my challengers.  But, I will bring a conservative judicial approach to the bench.  I will rule based on the law and not legislate from the bench. I will also be “holding the line” so to speak, for a long time to come.  We need young conservatives to step up in leadership positions.  As an elected judge, I also plan to use the position to help show young conservatives in Parker County that there is a place for them.  We are growing and we need to ensure that we continue to grow our conservative base as well. 
 
Q: Any final thoughts on why residents should vote for you?
A: I believe I am the best candidate for the position.  I have the experience, I have the character, I have the disposition to lead an efficient court that serves the people of Parker County.  Over the years I have seen what happens when judges fail to rule based on the Constitution and the laws.  I am the right candidate because I will use the laws of the State of Texas to protect our communities and children from crime and preserve our conservative values; and I will follow the Constitution to ensure all individuals of Parker County are provided the liberty and protections provided by the Constitution.
____________________________
Age: 65
 
Occupation:Judge, Pct.4 / Attorney
 
Education/background: Before attending law school I started and operated two small businesses in Parker County.In 1982, I founded Lone Star Ironworks specializing in the design, fabrication and installation of Victorian period decorative iron fences, gates and building components. In 1989, working in conjunction with the Texas Historical Commission, I designed, built and supervised the installation of the iron crestings that adorn each corner and the bell tower of the Parker County Courthouse.  
In 1984, I began my second small business, Martin Insulation which I owned and operated until being admitted to Baylor University School of Law.  
In 1987, I enrolled at Weatherford College graduating Phi Theta Kappa in 1989 with an Associates of Business Degree.  I attended The University of Texas at Arlington from 1989 to 1990 majoring in Accounting.  In late 1990 I was accepted to Baylor University School of Law and began law school in the spring of 1991.  I graduated from Baylor Law School in July 1993 and took the State Bar Examination the following week.
 
Relevant experience for this office: I have been a licensed attorney since 1993 and have served as Justice of the Peace of Precinct 4 in Parker County since January 2016.
I am licensed to practice in all courts of the State of Texas and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  During my years as a practicing attorney I handled cases involving many types of Civil Litigation, Family Law, Criminal Law, Wills, Probate, Guardianships and Real Estate.  During my years in private practice, I was also often appointed to serve as Attorney Ad Litem by judges of the Parker County District, County Courts at Law and Probate Courts.  As an Ad Litem, it was my responsibility to represent and protect the physical, emotional and financial interests of children in Family Law, Child Protective Services and Probate cases.
After years in private practice, I decided that I wanted to serve as a judge.  I felt that even though I had a great deal of experience in civil areas of the law and as a criminal defense attorney, I considered it important that a judge who hears criminal cases also have experience as a prosecutor.
Having made the decision I wanted to be a judge, in 2005 I accepted a position as an Assistant District Attorney / Felony Prosecutor for Palo Pinto County.  Over the course of the next 4 ½ years I participated in over 100 felony criminal jury trials.  I was involved in all aspects of felony level criminal prosecution including case intake, preparation and presentation to the Grand Jury, trial preparation and presentation at trial.
For the past 6 years I have served the people of Parker County as the Judge/Justice of the Peace of Precinct 4.  Since taking office, my court has handled over 2,400 civil cases and more than 28,000 traffic and other criminal cases. 
I am also responsible for performing magistrate duty at the Parker County Jail.  As a magistrate, I inform the person arrested of their constitutional rights, the charges filed against them and set their bail amount along with any bond conditions or protective orders appropriate for the case.  
I have also issued over 650 warrants for the arrest of persons charged with felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses.  Because I am an attorney and a judge, I am on the DWI Blood Warrant rotation and I have signed approximately 100 DWI Blood Warrants.
 
How long have you resided in the coverage area: have resided in Parker County for 43 years having moved here in 1979.
 
Website or page where people can find out more about your campaign:
My website is: Kirkmartintx.com
My campaign Facebook page can be found at:  Kirk Martin for Judge
 
Q: Aside from being an attorney, what skills/talents do you hope to bring to this position?
A: Not having started college until I was 30 years old, I bring a great deal of life experience to the judges bench that many attorneys do not have.  As a general rule, most attorneys went from high school to college to law school but my path was much different.  For the 14 years between graduation from high school to entering law school, I gained real world experience in the construction trades as a laborer, welder and insulation contractor.  The experience I gained as a small business owner cannot be taught or learned in a college classroom. 
 
Q: Have you practiced law before the court where you hope to preside? If so, what changes, if any would you like to see?
A: Yes, I have practiced law in County Court at Law #1 of Parker County.  For many years I practiced in the County Courts at Law and District Courts of Parker and surrounding counties.
I have known Judge Buckner for many years and am informed that he has a very efficient and smooth running court.  I’m a believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, therefore I do not foresee making any changes in personnel or courtroom procedures unless something is brought to my attention that needs to be modified.  
Over the years I was involved in cases with Judge Buckner when we were both in private practice but have not appeared in his court on a case.  Judge Buckner took the bench in 2007, which was after I had accepted a position as a felony prosecutor.  After leaving the District Attorneys office I served as Corporate Counsel and Contracts Manager for a company that provided specialized training to U.S. law enforcement agencies and the military forces of our allies in the Middle East until 2015.  Since January 2016 I have been serving as Justice of the Peace and have not therefore appeared in front of Judge Buckner.
 
 Q: Describe your relationship with the county bar and how that best recommends you to this elected office.
A: I am well acquainted with members of the local bar association and I served as President of the Parker County Bar Association in 1998-1999.  I am also a member of the College of the State Bar which is a designation and recognition of attorneys that exceed the continuing legal education hours required each year by the State Bar of Texas.
Though they are not attorneys, each of the endorsements by Former Texas Governor and Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry and also U.S. Congressman, Roger Williams, are further recognition of my experience and dedication to the law.  
 
Q:  What would you bring to this office that your challengers may not?
A: Experience.  All candidates in this race are required to be a licensed attorney but what sets me apart from the others is my experience that goes well beyond being an attorney. 
I have years of experience as a small business owner in the construction trades before becoming an attorney. 
I have been a licensed attorney for over 28 years which is the most of any candidate in this race.  I am the only candidate that has experience as a felony prosecutor.  I have over 4 ½ years of 
experience as a prosecutor and have participated in over 100 felony level criminal jury trials along with many other contested criminal hearings.  
I also bring the experience of having both drafted and also negotiated multi-million dollar contracts with governmental and military agencies.
And finally, I am the only candidate in the race for judge of County Court at Law #1 that has been a judge.  As stated earlier, I currently serve as the elected judge for Precinct 4 in Parker County.  For over 6 years I have presided over a court that handles both civil and criminal cases.  As a judge, I have also issued over 650 felony and misdemeanor arrest warrants and approximately 100 blood warrants. 
No other candidate in this race has the experience I will bring to County Court at Law #1.   
 
Q: Any final thoughts on why residents should vote for you?
A: Aside from my background as a small business owner and 28 years of experience as an attorney, prosecutor and judge, I think that my community involvement over the last 40+ years sets me apart from my opponents.  
For many years both my wife Angie, and I have financially supported numerous non-profit organizations in Parker County and served as board members.  I have served on the Parker County Child Protective Services Board, Parker County Crime Commission, the original Children’s Advocacy Center Board and the Parker County Historical Commission.  I have been a member of the Parker County Sheriffs Posse for 38 years and served as an officer of the organization.  I am an active member of Aledo Rotary and former member of Weatherford Rotary.  I am a member of Azle, East Parker County, Springtown and Weatherford Chambers of Commerce.  I recently joined the Azle and Springtown chambers but have been a member of the East Parker County and Weatherford Chambers for many years.  I have also volunteered my time by participating in Habitat for Humanity building projects.  As an active member of the Republican Party, before I became a judge, I volunteered many times to help work the elections in my precinct.  I believe that my acquiring the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 15, is further proof that service to my community has been a part of my life for many years.
_____________________________
Age: 54
 
Occupation: Attorney in Weatherford for the last 27 years
 
Education/background: My parents are Richard and Judy Flinn, and they have been married 63 years.  I have a brother, John Flinn, and a sister, Toni Gill.  I grew up in Breckenridge, where I graduated from high school in 1985.  I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas A&M in 1989.  I went to law school at Texas Tech, where I earned my Juris Doctorate and met my wonderful husband of 30 years, Tommy Wise.   While at Tech, I was the First Year Class Representative, Law School Student Senator to the main campus, Third Year Class Vice President, and Justice (President) of the local chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, a legal fraternity.  Following law school, Tommy and I opened our practice, WISE & WISE, at 211 North Main Street, Weatherford Texas in 1994.  I have been practicing out of that same office for the last 27 years.  We have two sons, Thomas, who is completing his Master’s Degree in Accounting at the University of Texas at Austin, and J.R. who is autistic and lives with us.   My family members were early settlers in Palo Pinto and Johnson Counties, and I have many distinguished ancestors and relatives which you can read more about on my website.
 
Relevant experience for this office: The County Court at Law No. 1 (CCL1) hears about 45% misdemeanor criminal cases, 45% family law cases, and about 10% other civil cases.  I have been practicing law in this court, handling the exact types of cases this Court hears, for the past 27 years. I have handled misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.  I have handled thousands of family law cases, including Child Protective Services (CPS) cases, adoptions, child custody, grandparent custody cases, divorces, paternity suits, termination of parental rights, child support, enforcement of child support, enforcement of possession and access, protective orders, and restraining orders. I have also handled other types of civil cases, some real estate, and estate planning, including wills.
– How long have you resided in the coverage area: 27 years.
 
Website or page where people can find out more about your campaign: The Facebook page for my campaign is Kitty Wise for County Court at Law No. 1 Judge and can be found at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100077183475554  
I also have a website at www.kittywiseforjudge.com where everyone can find out more information about me and how to support my campaign for County Court at Law No. 1 Judge.  
 
Q: Aside from being an attorney, what skills/talents do you hope to bring to this position?
A:  Life is about making good choices and living with the consequences if you don’t.  This applies to all types of cases the CCL1 hears. I have been married 30 years, and raised two children, one of whom is autistic. My experiences as a successful wife and mother, particularly of an autistic child who requires greater compassion and open-mindedness than most children, have well prepared me for being a judge.  I am also a mediator. I have spent years listening to people, sitting across from them in my office and in the Courtroom, counseling them about faith and their legal options, and observing their behavior. I am an excellent judge of character, and I am prepared to treat participants in litigation with respect and help them understand that they must accept the consequences of their past choices, but they can control what they do in the future.  I am very passionate about protection of victims, whether the victims are children in CPS cases, injured family members in domestic violence cases, or the victims of other crimes.  
 
Q: Have you practiced law before the court where you hope to preside? If so, what changes, if any would you like to see? 
A:  I have been practicing law in CCL1 continuously for the past 27 years.  Judge Buckner has done a wonderful job as the Presiding Judge of this Court!  I would continue many of his established policies, particularly his tough stance on contempt cases, drug use, and domestic violence.  There will be no slap on the hand in my court for failure to pay child support or denying child visitation: you will go to jail.  I will work to reduce the portion of the budget spent on court appointed counsel, by closely scrutinize affidavits of indigence to make sure people who can hire their own attorney do so. I will encourage people receiving appointments from my Court to use electronic meetings, and to do virtual visits, where possible, to cut down on the wasting of taxpayer dollars for travel.  I will work closely with criminal prosecutors and defense counsel to come up with ways to move the CCL1 criminal docket more quickly and ensure that when citizens appear for jury duty, we do not waste their time.
 
Q: Describe your relationship with the county bar and how that best recommends you to this elected office.
A:  I have been dealing with local attorneys, prosecutors, and Judges, the entire time I have been in Parker County.  I have always treated those individuals with respect and courtesy outside the Courtroom and I’ve often been called a bulldog in the courtroom. We may seem like we are at each other’s throats when representing our clients, but it is just part of the job and most of us have mutual respect and do not take it personally. We know if we all do our part, justice will be fairly carried out.  I am proud to be a lawyer and I encourage the other attorneys I deal with to conduct themselves in a manner which brings dignity to our profession. I believe I have the respect of the members of my profession. Just as important are the other people who work with the Court on a daily basis.  I have had the pleasure of working with the staff of CCL1, our County Clerk and her staff, local law enforcement, and the support staff of our local attorney’s offices for years.  These people are the rock stars who really make things happen and keep our system running smoothly.  I feel I have a great rapport with them!
 
Q: What would you bring to this office that your challengers may not? 
A: Each of us running for this office is qualified, but we each have a unique background.   Being the mother of an autistic child has had a strong influence on who I am.  I am fiercely protective of those who cannot protect themselves.  I am more creative about problem solving because of the constant changes in my son’s behavior.  It has solidified my faith that God has a plan for each of us and we are not always entitled to know what that plan is, we just have to do our best to make the right decisions each day.  I have learned that solving a problem is about more than just finding out what someone wants.  It is more importantly about why they want it.  People are often not able to organize their thoughts in a succinct enough manner to express these things to you.  You must look at all the clues and evidence to determine what they are after and why, and then use that information to figure out what is best for them and the other people around them.  I believe I excel at this!
 
Q: Any final thoughts on why residents should vote for you?
A:  My years of experience have prepared me to know the law and understand how my judicial decisions will impact the human beings who appear before me.  I am a good communicator, listener, and excellent judge of character.  I will be punctual, courteous, and patient with those who appear in my court, but strict in enforcing consequences for bad choices. It would be my pleasure to serve Parker County and I ask for your vote.
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