A look at the runoff election for the 19th JDC judge seat

Candidates for 19th JDC judge face off Saturday in runoff election

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The runoff election for the 19th Judicial District Division L judge seat will be held Saturday, Nov. 16.

The two candidates in the runoff are Democrat Ronald “Ron” Johnson and Republican Trae Welch.

Johnson is the twin brother of the current 19th JDC Division B judge, Donald R. Johnson. Welch currently represents District 1 on the metro council.

Both candidates are running on their experience.

"I served as an ad hoc judge in the Baton Rouge city court for a period of time, so I’m aware of all the responsibilities that a judge has and I am ready to serve,” Johnson said.

"You have to have that discernment to determine what that is and I’ve gotten that over the last 12 years, having to go through as a prosecutor to determine, do we have a family that’s in crisis that needs help with their kids or do we have someone who, no matter what they do, they’re not going to do what they need to?” Welch said.

If Welch is elected, he says he wants to make the court more accessible and ensure it’s fair to all who come through its doors.

"They can expect a judge that will pay attention to each and every person that comes in front of them and it doesn't matter where they come from, they'll get the same fair shake,” Welch said.

Johnson made the same promise, but he also wants to improve the court system.

"I look forward to bringing about special courts, meaning that domestic violence type courts, veterans type courts, and other types of specialized courts that bring about the needs of our community,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s campaign has not been without controversy though.

In June, an oversight committee said he violated the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Code of Judicial Conduct for appearing in judges’ robes during an advertisement. Johnson was ordered to destroy all property that contained the images.

In a letter, Johnson said it “gave the appearance that I am the incumbent judge. I am not a judge, but am seeking the office of judge. This is a violation of Cannon 7A(9).”

Ronald Johnson released this letter in response to a decision by a judicial oversight committee to cite Johnson for appearing in judges' robes in campaign material.
Ronald Johnson released this letter in response to a decision by a judicial oversight committee to cite Johnson for appearing in judges' robes in campaign material.

Johnson was also cited by the high court for falsely claiming Welch had not tried civil, probate, or family cases. In a statement released on his Facebook page, Johnson said:

“My campaign team published data on cased handled by my opponent, Trae Welch, however, in publishing the information, they were unaware that Trae Welch was reporting cases under the name Jewl Welch III.”

Johnson was once again cited by a judicial oversight committee, this time for making false claims against his opponent, Trae Welch.
Johnson was once again cited by a judicial oversight committee, this time for making false claims against his opponent, Trae Welch. (Source: WAFB)

"I think that those issues are adequately addressed in the press,” Johnson said. “I think those issues were adequately addressed by my opponent and I would say that the voters will speak well in that regard."

Only voters in Zachary and Baker will have the opportunity to vote in this race on Saturday.

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