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District court candidates face off in forum

The candidates for the 172nd District Court Judge met for an open forum at the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday.

Democratic candidate Melody Chappell and Republican candidate Mitch Templeton discussed topics ranging from judicial integrity and how formal they would like their courtrooms to both candidates involvement with Beaumont Independent School District.

Each candidate was given two minutes to present an opening statement. A coin flip decided that Templeton would answer the first question first and then the candidates alternated.

Chappell and Templeton were given two minutes to answer each question of the seven questions.

The first division between the two came on the first question about a judge’s ability to be impartial.

Templeton said that he is not endorsed by any law firms in the county and that would allow him to stay neutral. He noted that law firms in the area exclusively backing democratic nominees is not good for the county. Chappell said endorsements are an unfortunate part of running for an elected position.

The candidates agreed on matters regarding the style of courtrooms they would like to preside over. Both said they enjoyed
federal court because of the structure and knowing the rules are in place.

The debates warmed up when the questions turned toward each of their involvement with BISD. Templeton applied for the Board of Managers shortly after the state took over the district. Templeton said right before Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey hit he was approached by a group of people to run for the 172nd District Court Judge. Templeton said he would resign form his position on the board if he were elected.

Chappell, who worked as an attorney for BISD, said she represented over a dozen school districts in the area.

“The whole reason that question was brought up is because of her time representing BISD,” Templeton said of Chappell in his closing statement. “She should have stepped down from representing them numerous times. She is a school district lawyer.”

Chappell said she hopes Templeton is able to keep his job on the Board of Managers.

“I have the temperament to be the 172nd judge,” she said.

Both candidates will be at the Jefferson County Political Candidate Forum on Thursday. The forum is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the IBEW 479 Hall at 1430 Spindletop Road in Beaumont.