Judge Patti will be a state asset

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Next week, Shelby County voters will have the opportunity to cast their votes for Judge Patti Smith for the Alabama Supreme Court.

With 24 years of service to Shelby County, Smith is no new name to us.

She has served us well and has used every possible resource to help our troubled youth and strengthen our families.

When there were no resources available, she worked hard to create the resources needed: CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Shelby County, the DAY Program (Developing Alabama Youth Program), a state-of-the-art Juvenile Detention Facility and more.

What we know about Patti Smith is that she is an honest, conservative, experienced and fair judge and that she has changed lives for the better for abused children and has worked to unify families and improve our community.

She was a &uot;compassionate conservative&uot; before the term was ever created.

What we know about Patti Smith is that she is a wife, a mother of two and grew up in military family which consisted of 14 children. By now, everyone has heard of the Mungenast family.

But what you may not know about Patti Smith is that she worked three jobs to put herself through school, finishing college in an exceptional three years versus the usual four.

She was the first female judge in Shelby County, and was one of the youngest judges ever appointed in state history, and at age 52, is one of the longest-serving judges in state history.

Other things you might not know about Patti Smith is that she supports many local charities out of her personal fund, not her campaign fund – a rarity among people in political office. She gives from her own pocket, not a political war chest, because she is not a &uot;political&uot; person.

You also may not know about the real, life-changing examples of her 24 years as a judge because she would never tell you.

For instance, there was the young man who appeared in her court and she put him in special programs for help, sternly warning him that he needed desperately to turn his life around or he would end up in jail.

He did in another state, and wrote her a letter from his jail cell to thank her for being so kind to him, yet disciplining him. He thanked her for her honest confrontation and had finally hit bottom only to remember her words of frankness and discipline – words issued with kindness and compassion.

He told her that she had made a profound difference in his life and that he would be following her advice in the future – wishing so desperately that he had in the past.

Judge Patti Smith would never tell you about the young man disciplined in her courtroom and put through a special program only to go on to serve as a police officer in our community or the award-winning chef who was motivated in his earlier years to turn his life around after spending time in a strict academic program she had created for troubled youth.

Patti Smith has contributed a great deal to Shelby County during the past 24 years. She has changed lives for the better and has contributed to the safety of the community in which we live.

Shelby County’s vote could be the difference in the future decisions made by the Alabama Supreme Court based on who we elect on November 2nd.

We as a county have enjoyed the company, the contributions, the experience and the judicial excellence of Patti Smith long enough.

What will be a great loss for us, will be a great gain for the children and families of our great state.

It is now time to support one who has supported us – Judge Patti Smith for the Alabama Supreme Court.

Beth Chapman serves as Alabama’s state auditor. She resides with her husband and two sons in north Shelby County