Justice of the Peace candidates speak at chamber luncheon

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The Fallon Chamber of Commerce featured at its April luncheon three candidates seeking justice of the peace for the New River Township Justice Court.

The nonpartisan office is for a six-year term. Candidates were each allotted no more than 15 minutes to discuss their candidacy and answer any questions.

Incumbent Ben Trotter, who was elected in 2018, had served as Churchill County sheriff for eight years and as a police officer with the city of Fallon. Challenging Trotter in the nonpartisan race are Brenda Ingram, director of Court Services for Churchill County, and Stuart Richardson, a longtime optometrist and community leader.

Trotter spoke first, thanking the Chamber of Commerce for hosting the candidates’ forum. He said the chamber has recognized him several times over the years.

Trotter said he works with six clerks in the historic 1903 courthouse on North Maine Street. He said as the justice of the peace, he handles all felonies, misdemeanors and traffic cases except those handled by the Fallon Police Department.

“This may be the single busiest office in Fallon,” Trotter said, adding his clerks are very busy and doing an outstanding job.

During the past six years, Trotter said he has taken many classes related to his position. Trotter discussed how many defendants now appear for their hearings via camera rather than standing before him in court.

Ingram, who moved to Fallon 34 years ago, said two-thirds of her live has been serving Churchill County.

“I bring a lot of institutional knowledge of county government,” said Ingram, who has held her current position since 2009.

Ingram said Court Services was created to help alleviate jail overcrowding and improve the efficiency of the court system.

After her introductory remarks, Ingram said there’s a contrast between her and the two other candidates running for the office. Ingram said she will keep the community safer by not releasing high-risk offenders and also by examining the results of each prisoner’s high risk assessment.

Ingram claims many individuals released by Trotter are repeat offenders.

“High-risk offenders violate the conditions,” she said.

Ingram also claimed Trotter has treated his position as a part-time judge and also referred to Richardson’s filing in January when he said he could be both a judge and optometrist.

Richardson said he’s a newcomer to local politics but has held many positions with civic organizations. He also finished law school in 2008 and passed the bar exam in California, which, he said, is not recognized by Nevada.

Since 2018, Richardson has been the judge pro tem for Justice Court.

If elected, Richardson said he would be able to put in the time learning and studying to be an effective judge.

“I offer a completely different perspective with my medical and law degrees,” he said.


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