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February 24, 2014ROSWELL, Ga. – Roswell's City Council decided Feb. 24 to elect its municipal judges, bringing an end to a back and forth in the city over how the court should be managed.
In a 4-2 vote, the council decided to press ahead with an election May 20 for Roswell's judge. Roswell is now the only remaining municipality in the state that still elects its judge.
At issue is that state law allows for municipal judges to be appointed by the city councils. Every city in the state has moved to this method. Alpharetta appointed its first judge earlier this year.
While state law allows the appointment, Roswell's city charter does not, explicitly detailing the election of a judge.
"You have the authority to make that decision," said Michael Fischer, Roswell's deputy city administrator.
Since Judge Maurice Hilliard stepped down last year, Roswell has had interim judges that were appointed by the City Council. They will now fill in the term until a new judge is elected.
"This has been one of the most vexing questions in Roswell for some time," said Councilmember Kent Igleheart. "I can agree with both sides. It's likely we could get a better quality judge if we appoint one."
However, he noted he had heard from many residents who were opposed to the change, claiming they were either opposed to the removal of an elected position or they were proud to live in the only city in the state to elect judges.
"All we are trying to do is to get a more efficient and professional court system," said Councilmember Jerry Orlans, who made the motion to approve. "Following state law will be a better method going forward."
Councilmember Betty Price did not agree.
"There are good reasons to retain our system – it's in our charter. There is a state law that says we can appoint, but that is not a mandate that we must," Price said. "I trust the electorate to put the proper person in their place."
Qualifying for candidates of the Roswell municipal court judge is the week of March 3-7. The election will be May 20.
Editor, Milton Herald