Tuesday is a big day, you guys. We elect the man (one day I’ll get to say man or woman) who will make some pretty big decisions over the next four years. For reference, go look up pictures of each president before and after their first term in office. The white house practically paints hair grey, never fails. I can’t imagine it being very hard to guess who I will vote for this week. I try to give everyone a chance, but I usually end up choosing the “rather vote for a yellow dog” route. HOWEVER, I’m not here to talk about my bright blue dot status. I am here to talk about how it took me 24 years to understand how important our local elections are. I’m also here to talk about why I’ll be voting for Judge Glenn Thompson.
In hopes that I didn’t lose you Republicans with the bright blue dot reference, I want to start by saying that I usually stay out of this online conversation. Honestly, I probably would have continued to stay out of it if I hadn’t agreed to go watch my brother sing at drug court graduation last spring. Let me be clear, attending drug court graduation completely changed my perception of local government. Drug court graduation changed my perception of the positive progression of our county/state. Drug court graduation, if I’m being honest, probably changed my life. I don’t personally know Judge Thompson very well. His wife was my wonderful choral director for 4 years of high school, but we never spent very much time with “Judge”. After seeing what I saw at a drug court graduation last spring, I now have an idea of why he was such a busy man.
When I was a student at UAB, a good friend of mine filmed a documentary on The Lovelady Center which is a half-way home primarily for females dealing with prison time. I won’t go terribly into detail, but I remember becoming an immediate fan of alternative sentencing. “Keep on building prisons, gonna fill them all”, you know? But that kind of forward thinking in Morgan County was something that I didn’t expect to see for a couple of more decades. And that could be my fault for not giving our area a chance, but in my defense, Hartselle is still dry. So when that night came last spring and I was sitting at a table watching these people overcome their offenses OUTSIDE OF PRISON, I was almost in tears. Not only were these people dismissed from their charges, they were also being treated as human beings (not criminals). And after listening to most of them speak about their drug court experiences, it was very clear that they were treated with this same respect throughout the entire process. I could literally write all day about how many people said “Judge Thompson saved my life” or “Judge Thompson is the reason I am here today”. The response to his work and support with the drug court graduates was truly overwhelming. Never in my life had I seen a judge treat an offender as they should be treated, a human being first and a drug offender second. Judge Thompson knew everything about these graduates. He talked about their families, their jobs, their lives. The night almost seemed as big a deal for him as it was for the graduates. They all shared the win. I cannot say enough how beautiful this experience was for me.
I say all of this because this election matters. Trust me, I used to be the first person in line for the “these elections don’t affect me/therefore, they don’t matter to me” train. But you guys, these local elections are JUST AS important as who you vote to be the next president. Not only does drug court keep people out of jail, it also saves you A LOT of tax money. Unfortunately, money is a big deal right now in this country. For me, money is still not more important than any social/human rights issue. Humans will always be more important than money to me. I will always vote in favor of the humans. I will always vote for equality. I don’t know anything about how Judge Thompson votes, but I do know how he acts. His drug court is in favor of the human right to be treated as a human. Kindness, fairness and compassion will win my vote every single time. And by showing kindness, fairness and compassion to each and every drug court graduate in the room that night, Judge Thompson won my vote. So whether you’re voting for money or human rights, he wins both ways. (Side note: PLEASE PLEASE don’t miss the part in the picture above that mentions only ONE re-offender of the over 100 graduates.)
I read this recently, “There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” As local voters, we have to fight for the elections that we directly control. Choosing a Morgan County Circuit Judge is something we have complete control over. So many candidates will be elected on Tuesday who won’t do any good for the people. We have to fight for the good in our county/state/country. Judge Thompson is so obviously good. And when you vote on Tuesday, know he’s the good that’s worth fighting for.