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Hurm's judicial attributes make him the better bet

Throughout his campaign for Citrus County judge, Stephen Hurm has emphasized his qualifications. That is appropriate because he has a wealth of experience that has taken him from the classroom to the prosecutor's office to private practice as a defense attorney.

But Hurm has emphasized something more during this race. Without being overly explicit, he has let people know there is something about him that sets him apart from his opponent, Judge Mark Yerman. Those distinguishing attributes, when combined with his understanding of the law, are what makes him the most promising candidate for this office.

The attributes? Character. Courage. Control. Common sense. All are traits that Hurm possesses and that reasonable people would desire in any elected official. They are especially germane when voters are deciding who will sit in judgment of them and their neighbors in county court.

Interpreting the law and dispensing justice is an awesome responsibility, one that voters should consider more important than setting policy on a school board or county commission, for instance. A judge decides innocence or guilt; a judge deals with your liberty. At the drop of a gavel a judge can set you free or take away your freedom.

Although he has never donned a judge's robe, Hurm exudes the confidence and compassion that is needed on the bench. Perhaps because of his varied background, he seems attuned to the highs and lows of the citizenry he will serve.

This is not to say a recommendation for Hurm is a condemnation of Yerman. On the contrary, Yerman has been a dutiful and fair judge in Citrus County since he was appointed to the job by Gov. Lawton Chiles more than a year ago. In fact, Yerman has done an exceptional job of cleaning up the mess left by Gary Graham, the judge who was removed from his post last year by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

But those administrative worries should be easily solved by any well-organized attorney with knowledge of how the court operates, and such rote mechanizations are not what voters should focus on when they select a judge.

Without demeaning Yerman's accomplishments, we recommend voters elect Stephen Hurm to serve them as Citrus County judge.

OPPORTUNITY TO REPLY

Judge Mark Yerman is invited to respond to this editorial recommendation. The reply must be received no later than 5 p.m. Thursday and is limited to 250 words. Deliver to: Jeff Webb, Editor of Editorials, Citrus Times, 3822 East Gulf to Lake Highway, Inverness, FL 34450. Or fax to: (904) 344-3121.

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