Three candidates seek Missoula Municipal Judge position


MISSOULA, Mont. - In this year's municipal election, Missoula voters will decide who will serve as the city's municipal judge. Current Judge Kathleen Jenks is seeking re-election, while Leta Womack and Mark McLaverty are the candidates looking to fill the position themselves.

Womack has worked as a trial attorney, practicing for more than 30 years with experience including family law, civil litigation, and felonies and misdemeanors. She tells NBC Montana that she wants to help stop overcrowding in the county's jail by tapping into community resources like Veteran Courts and co-occurring treatment courts, as well as alternative conditions like monitoring devices and work-release programs.

McLaverty has been a fill-in judge in both District Court and Municipal Court in Missoula. He has also served as Assistant Attorney General, and has worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He says he wants to boost community safety, particularly downtown. He says he also wants to work to curb domestic violence, and curb repeat offenses in general. He also mentioned tapping into community resources like Veterans Court.

Jenks was appointed to her judgeship at the end of 2011, so she has been serving as a judge for nearly two years. She says several changes have been made under her judgeship in Missoula, including the court's keeping of more detailed records. For example, defendants are now able to obtain full sentencing order documents rather than relying on codes written on tickets. Jenks says she has also worked to get misdemeanor offenders into treatment, and wants to see Municipal Court have access to pretrial supervision options.

Ballots for the election were mailed out on October 21, and must be returned by or on November 5.

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