By Ken Strachan
I learned after the May 9 qualifying deadline that Fifth Circuit Court Judges Clarence E. “Cem” Morgan III and Joseph Loper will run unopposed for a sixth consecutive term in this year’s elections. It brought to mind 20 years ago while I was still in college, when I first met Judge Loper and Judge Morgan and became actively involved in their first campaigns which covers Winston County. The year was 1994, and then Carroll County Chancery Clerk Ralph Self introduced me to them. I quickly knew I would like to be involved in their campaigns and it was not only rewarding but an educational experience.
Judge Loper had recently been appointed by the governor to finish an unexpired term. Loper, who is a former mayor of Ackerman, was making his first race for a full four year term as circuit judge. In the 1994 election, a voter could cast a ballot for two in the judge positions because the top two vote-finishers would be elected to the bench.
Twenty years later, these two judges have proven their dedication to justice and fairness in serving the people of the Fifth Circuit Court. It is worth noting that Judge Morgan’s father had served as a circuit judge in this district for years before his death.
During the campaign one day leading up to the election I was with Judge Loper going door- to- door in the New Bethel Community of Carroll County. We almost got stuck in the muddy driveway leading to the voters house. We made it, and understandably the voter were more interested in discussing the condition of the driveway. However, these are the times you can see a candidate’s dedication for serving the public.
Closer to the election, there was a political rally at the Carroll County Courthouse in Carrollton, where a crowd had assembled on a fall Saturday morning. You could see Morgan’s dedication for serving the public as he worked the crowd of black and white citizens gathered that day.
These are people who are entrusted to make the decisions that guarantee justice for all and everyone is treated fairly. Morgan and Loper over the past two decades have lived up to the highest expectations from that first campaign. They not only have one of the best working relationships with each other, they exemplify the high qualities a person would expect from the circuit court. They are everything an effective justice should be.
With circuit court beginning this month in Carroll County, and with Morgan’s and Loper’s names on the ballot unopposed in the November general election, I can’t help but think about how they have served honorably the citizens of this district . As I look back 20 years later from when Ralph Self introduced me to these two public servants and from when I had the opportunity to help in the judicial campaign, it is not only an experience I will always remember but something I am proud to have been a part of back in 1994.
Ken Strachan is a columnist from North Carrollton.