Meet the candidates running for Justice of Peace, Constable in Yavapai County
For many people, a justice of the peace or constable are not part of one’s daily life. Other times, they make important decisions for Yavapai County residents.
This year’s primary election covers several contested races for Justice of the Peace and Constable. Seligman, for example, has four people running for its Justice of the Peace position. Prescott and Bagdad/Yarnell have two candidates in their races.
Here are brief biographies and three questions and answers, submitted by the candidates, in alphabetical order, for voters to look over before the Aug. 28 election. Each candidate had a 50-word limit with which to answer the last three questions.
Constable – Mayer
Name: Hank Hellman
Length of time in jurisdiction: 55 years in Yavapai County
Occupation and professional background: Flagstaff Police Dept., cadet, two years; Henderson PD, Nevada, 1 year; Central Yavapai Fire Dept., 24 years; Honorable Constable Mayer, 12 years; Bailiff, Superior Court, two years; Mayer Constable since 2010; Arizona Rangers, Lonesome Valley Company, six years.
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in Police Administration, NAU; Constable educational conferences, and numerous classes, seminars and ongoing training.
What made you decide to run for constable? In 1985 my father was the Justice of the Peace in our precinct and I wanted to be his constable. Having had an extensive background in law enforcement, I longed to be of service to the community in the capacity of Honorary Constable even though I was working fulltime as a firefighter.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? The lingering economic downturn, the persistent drought, the Goodwin Fire and subsequent flooding caused much physical damage. We all need to pull together and help return to the good times of just a few years ago.
What are your goals and priorities as constable? During the past eight years, the Mayer Constable’s office has run effectively, efficiently and with dignity. I intend to continue to offer this level of service to the citizens of Yavapai County.
Name: Donny Oen
Length of time in jurisdiction: I moved to Cordes Lakes in 1985 when my father retired from the U.S. Army. In 2004, I built a home and live in Dewey.
Occupation and professional background: Retired deputy sheriff, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, 22 years.
Educational background: Yavapai College, two years, studying Criminal Justice; Arizona Detention Officer Academy through NARTA; Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE); Gang Resistance Education and Training; instructor for AZPOST Defensive Tactics, Driving, Taser; taught Civil Process at NARTA, six years; Constable Association Training.
What made you decide to run for constable? When I began working in the civil division in 2006, I discovered my passion. I enjoyed working the civil process side of law enforcement within my community, a very complex position with high liability of asset seizures and high-risk evictions. This experience is what piqued my interest in running for constable upon retirement.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? First, having a constable who is an AZPOST Certified Peace Officer. Secondly, to implement the warrant program, which keeps low-level offenders out of jail to keep court cases moving. Lastly, an understanding that this work is a fulltime job commitment. Public safety should be the number one priority in our community.
What are your goals and priorities as constable? As constable I will to continue to serve my community which has always been a priority of mine. As an elected peace officer, my biggest responsibility would be to serve the citizens of the Mayer Justice Court Precinct by providing prompt and professional service with integrity.
Justice of the Peace – Bagdad/Yarnell
Name: Shelly Bacon
Length of time in your jurisdiction: 20-plus years
Occupation and professional background: Deputy Court Administrator and Public Information Officer for Yavapai Superior Court, five years. My progressive career began with the Yavapai County Adult Probation Department, nine years. In 2001, I promoted to the Yavapai Superior Court and have been there for the past 17 years.
Educational background: I completed the Certified Court Manager and Certified Court Executive programs through the National Center of State Courts and the Supreme Court Education Services Division. I am certified to teach Court Community Communication, a public information course. I completed New Judge Orientation when I became a Justice of Peace Pro Tem.
What made you decide to run for justice of the peace? With the current judge retiring, I saw an opportunity for me to continue to serve my community. Any person who runs for office should be law-abiding; have integrity; have respect for people, the law, rules; and the ability to treat people with dignity. I am the candidate with those qualities.
What are three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? Access to justice — I’ll provide access to Bagdad/Yarnell courts, follow laws and consider individual circumstances when making rulings. Case management — I’ll resolve cases expeditiously without compromising due process. “Court operating in red” — courts don’t generate revenue, they dispense justice as efficiently as possible. I’ll manage within the approved budget.
What are your goals and priorities as justice of the peace? I’ll follow the law and judge all cases fairly and impartially. I won’t be swayed by public opinion and will treat the people who come into my court with respect and dignity. I will strive to make both the Bagdad and Yarnell Courts places the community will be proud of.
Name: Dennis Dowling
Length and time in your jurisdiction: 13 years. My wife’s family settled the Kirkland area in 1867, and our family joined them in 2005.
Occupation and professional background: Years of experience in educational system focusing on helping troubled and impoverished youth. Successfully owned and operated a business for 21 years. Currently, the elected Justice Court Constable, Bagdad/Yarnell Justice Precinct.
Educational background: Associates degree from Yavapai College focusing on criminal justice and education; over 200 hours AZPOST-approved Justice Precinct training.
What made you decide to run for Justice of the Peace? I am running to continue to ensure that the judicial process in this precinct represents our values as the foundation for our children, our families, and our future.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? Erosion of rural values. The solution: elect people with the record, ability, and resolve to make sure our values are preserved in our local government. Our residents are incarcerated for non-violent warrants. The solution: utilize effective programs that are in place in the larger precincts. Lack of efficient and effective uses of resources.
What are your goals and priorities as Justice of the Peace? I will use my experience to continue to protect our values, make sure we are treated equally in the court system, and protect your tax dollars. An immediate goal is the reopening of the Bagdad courthouse; we must be accessible to our entire precinct. Continue to listen to our residents.
Justice of the Peace – Prescott
Name: Mitch Padilla
Length of time in your jurisdiction: I have lived in Prescott for 10 years.
Occupation and professional background: Attorney in private practice. Former Arizona Assistant Attorney General for 12 years. Former AT&T communications manager. U.S. Navy veteran, 22 years.
Educational background: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Chapman University. Master of Business Administration, University of San Diego. Juris Doctorate, Thomas Jefferson School of Law.
What made you decide to run for justice of the peace? I realized there are ongoing issues that need to be addressed within our community. I am an attorney who is qualified and ready to take on these serious challenges; one who brings practical leadership based upon real-world experiences gained throughout my careers in law, business, and the military.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? Being community focused, I believe homelessness, mental illness, and veteran self-isolation are three main issues in the Prescott Precinct. These consume the time and efforts of law enforcement while keeping them from other pressing community needs. Addressing these issues will help those affected and better utilize our taxpayers’ money.
What are your goals and priorities as justice of the peace? Engage our community resources which help our homeless, mentally ill, and veteran populations. Why is this important? By helping others help themselves, we serve our community overall. I also support the creation of a Veterans Court at the Justice Court to help veterans suffering from PTSD and thoughts of suicide.
Name: Glenn A. Savona
Length of time in your jurisdiction: 39 years in Arizona, 28 years in Yavapai County
Occupation and professional background: Currently Prescott Justice of the Peace, and Prescott City Magistrate 2017-present (18 months). Former Prescott city prosecutor/assistant city attorney, 26 years.
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree, Political Science, University of Arizona; Juris Doctorate, UA College of Law; Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council, prosecutor training; Arizona State Supreme Court, limited jurisdiction/justice court training.
What made you decide to run for Justice of the Peace? I am the Prescott Justice of the Peace, appointed by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, and wish to continue serving the residents of Yavapai County. I have built a reputation of hard work, fairness and integrity. I stand for upholding the rule of law and the preservation of personal rights.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct? 1. The opioid epidemic: JPs are the first judge to see arrested persons to offer treatment. 2. Courthouse security and identity theft: safety at the courthouse and informational integrity as we move to digital storage. 3. Implementation of the State Supreme Court’s Fair Justice Initiative regarding pre-trial detention.
What are your goals as Justice of the Peace? 1. Resolve the backlog of outstanding warrants. 2. Engage the community to create unique sentencing options for all defendants. 3. Continue to follow the philosophy of Judges/mentors Kuebler, Wood and Markham. 4. Continue to serve on committees to present Yavapai County concerns to Judges in a statewide forum. 5. Maintain fiscal responsibility.
Justice of the Peace Seligman
Name: Ethan Burch (no response)
Name: Benjamin Emery
Length of time in your jurisdiction: Lived in Seligman for about five years
Occupation and professional background: Currently a store manager for Family Dollar in Seligman. I served in the U.S. Army for seven years and trained as a military police officer.
Educational background: Associate’s degree in Business Administration.
What made you decide to run for justice of the peace? I would like to work for the betterment of the Seligman and Ash Fork communities. I have met many people since I moved to Seligman and am establishing strong roots in the community.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? Growth and increase in population, which can lead to increased crime. Keep our communities as crime free as possible; keep repeat offenders off the streets. Second, keep illegal drugs off the streets; punish those who commit drug-related crimes. Make sure visitors feel welcome and safe enough to walk the streets at night.
What are your goals and priorities as justice of the peace? My goals and priorities are to work to make our communities a safer place to live by helping to keep repeat offenders off the streets, having community restitution individuals perform services that benefit the entire community, and being fair and impartial in all matters.
Name: Janice Kulp
Length of time in your jurisdiction: 10 years
Occupation and professional background: 35 years in the legal profession, four years Justice of the Peace.
Educational background: Paralegal and Judicial Certification.
What made you decide to run for justice of the peace? My extensive background and experience in the judicial system.
What are the three main issues facing your precinct in the coming term? Public awareness of court proceedings. Public education of court services. Court modernization.
What are your goals and priorities as justice of the peace? No response.
Name: Dominic Sarno (no response)
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