Smith County Judge Answers Tough Questions Including Not Running For Re-election

"After praying about it and thinking about it I came to the conclusion that I do not need to run again. So that's the 'why'. There really is no other 'why'," says Judge Dempsey.
While she continues to stand by her faith-based decision not to seek a second term, her faith has likely helped her survive rougher waters since she took the bench. One of those storms was her decision to peel back layers of the 2005 budget, reducing benefits for a number of county employees.
"Anytime you cross the picket line and your name is on the sign that you're crossing, those are going to stick in my mind. But my decision hasn't changed. My resolve to make right decision on behalf of the people that elected me has not changed," says Judge Dempsey.
She says one of the things she's done right was create a business plan, where each county department is held accountable for its spending. She says no matter what, her decisions as a judge have been nothing short of fair. "I can tell you that even after making that statement that they'd probably laugh at that statement that I tried to be fair. Because fairness to some means that they get what they want and that's not being fair. Sometimes being fair you have to make very tough decisions."
It's clear tougher decisions are in the future until a new Smith County jail is complete. She mentions a specific part of the process she is quote, "disappointed with." "I think there are some individuals in the county that are trying to do the job of the commissioner's court. People want to be helpful there's no question about that and I appreciate people wanting to help. But there's a line sometimes that can be crossed in being helpful and trying to dictate a governing body on what they should or should not do." The former district clerk and former legal assistant says it was not in her long-term plan to go into politics. And in the political arena, she knows where she has taken the county since 2002 will be up for debate. "God doesn't always call the qualified, at least what the world would think would be qualified. Be He absolutely qualifies those that he calls. And I think that's absolutely the case with me. There may be some that would disagree with that, but there will always be someone that will disagree."
When asked which Smith County judge candidate Dempsey will support in 2006, she says she won't make a decision yet. She'll begin looking at the individual candidates next year.

Christine Nelson reporting.