Crowd packs open house at Meares campaign headquarters

About 250 well-wishers turned out to greet Judge Mike Meares as his campaign headquarters opened Saturday in his bid to retain his position as Circuit Court judge.

The Meares’ campaign headquarters is at the Mediation Center at 212 High Street in downtown near the Blount County Courthouse.

Meares said he was happy to see his friends and supporters. “It’s always wonderful getting to see friends and supporters,” he said. “I’m happy so many came out.”

Friends, relatives and associates from Meares’ long law practice were on hand to support him in his campaign. Several talked about why they appreciated him and why they planned to vote for him.

Homer Roberts said Meares is a close friend. “He is a serious, honest man. He is extremely honest. He is and will be a good judge,” Roberts said.

“He’s a good family man,” Christine Martin said. “He’s fair, and he’ll follow the law. He’s a good person.”

Betty Bowman said she has known Meares since he first started practicing law. “I was a freelance court reporter. He will make an excellent judge,” she said.

Mae Owenby said she also has been friends with Meares for several years. “He is one of the finest and most honest people I know,” she said. “Mike will be fair and work hard to see justice is served to all.”

Linda King said she votes for those who serve the public. “I’m tired of the political machine. I’ll vote for and support people I believe will do the best job,” she said.

Homer White said he has known Meares 30 years. “I respect his decision not to take money from lawyers. They make a living in front of the judge, and his decisions affect their livelihood. It was a breath of fresh air,” he said

Jim Folts was quick to say he is a Republican. “But the reason that I’m here today is that Mike is part of a bipartisan reform movement that’s developing in the county, and I think the county desperately needs reform,” he said.

Joe Gallagher said in local elections it shouldn’t matter if a candidate is Republican or Democrat. “It’s what is good for county,” he said.

Gallagher said he has been impressed with how many people know and relate to Meares at the different places he visits while campaigning. “The other thing I admire about Mike is the fact he refused to take money from attorneys,” he said.

“That’s a big factor in our support,” Folts said. “He is the judge and can’t be bought.”

Former Blount County Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Cook said it was a bi-partisan crowd at the open house. “Both Democrats and Republicans are coming together because you realize what you need in a judge is someone who knows the job, knows the system and is beholden to no one.”

Commissioner David Ballard praised Judge Meares for his work so far. “We’ve got a judge who has proven himself as capable, and it’s important to keep him there,” Ballard said.

Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves said it was a bi-partisan crowd gathered at the open house. “It has been a very diverse crowd,” she said. “I support Judge Meares because he does what’s right no matter who he makes mad.”

Pitts Reeves said she also planned to vote for Meares to keep his seat because if his opponent wins, the county commission would fill the General Sessions seat he would vacate. “I don’t want the commission picking the next judge,” she said of that position.

Meares, a Democrat, will face General Sessions Judge David Duggan, a Republican, on Aug. 7.

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