(Seguin) -- Voters today will be choosing the next state district judge for the second 25th Judicial District. This is a Republican only race, with no one running for the nomination on the Democratic side. It's a race that essentially comes down to experience versus values. Ruben James Reyes says he's the only candidate with the right experience to do the job, while Jessica Richard Crawford says she's the only candidate that has values that Republican voters want from their judges.
Our profiles today begin with a look at Reyes' campaign. He says he decided to run because he believed his experience would serve him well in this position.
"Well I can tell you that I started off being a prosecutor when I was first licensed and practicing in the courts everyday, I saw the significant impact that a judge can have on people's lives and on cases. Having worked six years as an assistant DA and then going on six years in private practice, once I learned that Judge Kirkendall was no longer seeking re-election, I knew that with my experience as a prosecutor and then a private practitioner -- handling both, the prosecution of serious cases and defense of those cases as well as civil cases -- that I knew I could provide a balanced approach, an experienced approach and making sure that folks have a fair day in court -- be it if they're accused of a crime or folks who are involved in civil litigation. I think that a judge who has experience and knowledge of the law has the opportunity to make good decisions. That's why I decided to run," said Reyes.
Crawford's campaign has accused Reyes of being a Republican in Name Only, and say that he switched from the Democratic party a few years ago just so he could get elected to this position. Reyes says that's just not true, and he stands behind his activity in the local Republican Party since he made the switch. He says it's one of the reasons why he's been endorsed by some many law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and GOP officials in the counties that make up the 2nd 25th Judicial District.
"I think that the Republican voters need to know exactly where I stand. I can tell you that I also read the flyer that my opponent put out there. It was negative in nature, but I can tell you this, that I am a Republican conservative. I joined the Republican Party in 2011. Now, the reasons why I joined the Republican Party stem from life experiences. Obviously, I was a prosecutor for many years. I tried a lot of serious cases which changed your view of how you see, really humanity -- then becoming married and becoming a father -- that changes your perspective on life. Ultimately, when I left prosecution to become a small business owner, I dot my I's and cross my T's when it comes to running my small business and I'm a taxpaying citizen. I pay taxes with regard of my business and when the government tells me that I have to acquire insurance or I have to do certain things to conform with what the government wants me to do in terms of paying more taxes, I think that those combinations of life experiences help me to confirm my revolving decision to become Republican and that's what I did back in 2011," said Reyes.
Reyes says his opponent talks about being a true Republican, but he says she hasn't been an active one.
"Now I would like the voters to know this. For some reason, my opponent wants to make a big deal about voting history which has nothing to do with a judge sitting at the bench making these important decisions following the law as written which I pledge to do. But, when you look at our voting record, I've only been a Republican since 2011 and she claims to be a life long Republican, but when you look at the voting record -- if she wants to talk about that -- I have voted since 2012 in just as many Republican Primaries that she has as a so called life long Republican. At best, she's a passive Republican at best," said Reyes.
Reyes says he hopes that voters understand that his opponent is attacking his values, because he believes she lacks the experience for the job.
"The voters should vote for Ruben James Reyes because experience matters. It is imperative that we have a judge sitting on the bench who's making important decisions -- sometimes life and death decisions -- to have the experience to draw from, to know what justice is in certain circumstances. And, what justice is in certain circumstances, may be different from other situations. There's lots of facts that go into play when making these important decisions. When you have not been in the district courtroom, in the trenches, exposed to those types of circumstances, how can you make those decisions? It's too risky for the voters to have somebody with no district court experience to lead the court in any sort of decision making capacity. That's why it's important that the voters focus on what is important. Experience matters, principal justice matters and it's important to have somebody who has worked on both sides, who understands all the issues, who can follow the law," said Reyes.
Jessica Richard Crawford disputes Reyes' assertion that she doesn't have the experience for the job. She's currently the prosecuting attorney for the city of New Braunfels, and a former prosecutor from Bexar County. She says she's running for the seat, because she comes from a long line of public servants.
"It's something that I've always wanted to do at some point in my career. I am kind of a career public servant. I started my career in Bexar County at the district attorney's office. Currently, I work for the city of New Braunfels. I really enjoy working in public service. It's something that I want to continue to do as a career and I think that I would be a great candidate to serve the citizens of Seguin and the other counties, Gonzales, Lavaca, Colorado Counties and I just feel like I would offer a fair and balanced, energetic law and order -- Constitutional reverent oversight for the courtroom and the most important is to uphold conservative values that the Republican voters expect from a district judge," said Crawford.
Crawford says she believes judges should be tough on crime and believes in her status as a constitutional conservative. She says Reyes is not a conservative.
"Conservative values are important for this job because a judge should never legislate from the bench. A person who has liberal values tends to be more of an activist and we don't want that in this community or in any other community -- using their liberal activist values to change laws or make new laws from the bench. You want to be following the laws strictly -- interpreting the laws that already exist and so that provides justice and fairness to the attorneys and the people who are coming to court to have their case heard. They expect that you follow the laws that exist and not make new laws as you go along," said Crawford.
Crawford's experience and whether she is qualified in being able to do the job of a state district judge has come into question throughout her campaign. She says despite what Reyes says voters don't need to be worried about her experience.
"I have plenty of experience. I was a prosecutor with the Bexar County District Attorney under Susan Reed for two years out of law school. I tried cases on a weekly basis during that time. In 2010, I started my own practice. It was around that time, that the city of New Braunfels was looking for a contract prosecutor to handle all of their municipal court prosecutions. I took that job. I'm been doing that job for five years as well as I continued my private practice from 2010-2012 where I took other kinds of cases -- divorces and criminal defense work -- things like that where I was regularly in district court. In 2012, the city of New Braunfels asked me to go ahead and come on with them full-time. So, I did. I gave up my private practice. And so ever since 2012, I've been not only continuing the municipal prosecution -- I'm the only one that does it over there -- I've also gained a wide variety of experience on the civil side of the law where I represent the city council, city departments, police department on a wide variety of civil type law issues -- litigation and things like that. I research Constitutional issues. I issue legal opinions. I'm very well versed on a wide variety of law," said Crawford.
Crawford says she looks forward to upholding the laws of the Constitution and is ready to serve the public.
"You should vote for me because I am a lifelong conservative Republican. I'm smart. I'm a good honest person. I'm married to a wonderful man. He's a police officer in New Braunfels. He's wonderful and supports me everyday. I come from a family of public servants. I am a career public servant myself. I want to serve the people. I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do, to stand up for your values and I want to serve this community more than anything. So please please vote for Jessica Crawford when you go into that ballot," said Crawford.
Both Reyes and Crawford are looking to replace State District Judge W.C. "Bud" Kirkendall, who decided to not seek re-election. The 2nd 25th Judicial District includes Guadalupe, Gonzales, Colorado and Lavaca counties.