April 3, 2008
Sedalia attorney James Hanson said people will elect him as municipal judge April 8 if they are dissatisfied with incumbent Deborah Mitchell.
A 2001 graduate of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, he graduated law school from the University of Missouri-Columbia in December 2004. He was editor of the Missouri Law Review.
Hanson handled mostly estate planning while working for a firm in Joplin, before starting a solo practice there. Hanson, who grew up in Iowa, has worked as an attorney in Stanley Cox’s Sedalia office since December 2006. He moved his wife and four children — ages 11, 7, 4 and 2 — here from Joplin in September.
Hanson’s typically handles general civil litigation, family law, probate and estate planning. He said these cases should not conflict with the municipal judge position.
Hanson says some may underestimate the importance of the Municipal Court on economic development and quality of life.
“The municipal court is an important part of city growth,” Hanson said.
An unkept property could negatively influence companies considering whether to relocate here that tour Sedalia, he said. Also, when the city grows due to economic development, so does the crime, Hanson said. It’s the court’s job to “keep criminal activity under control” as the city grows, he said.
Hanson said he decided to seek the position at the encouragement of friends, fellow attorneys and a couple of City Council members.
“I’m just wanting to give Sedalia an opportunity to change if they feel like they need it,” he said.
Municipal judge candidates must be licensed to practice law in Missouri, be a resident of Pettis County, hold no other city office and be between the ages of 21 and 75. The municipal judge’s annual salary was recently increased from $12,000 to $20,000.