Some of these blog pieces are meant to be humorous, but in doing so, show my nature. I think a person’s nature is a very important part of who they are. Especially for someone who might be your next Justice of the Peace.

Think about it this way: Your son or daughter, or grandchild, gets embroiled in an underage drinking party out at one of the lakes, or on the Salt River tubing. It happens a lot, and they end up in court. Like clockwork a month after Memorial Day, or Labor Day, we end up getting a whole slew of kids in our court who’ve been cited for underage consumption. Often it’s a rowdy group, as though the “party” has continued at our court.

If they’re under eighteen, a parent or guardian has to accompany them. Over the years I’ve helped during those busy arraignment days helping to keep the order. I’ve witnessed a lot of  “talking to” on the parts of judges over the years (Judge Lester Pearce was the best!). It’s important to be able to connect with these young adults, especially minors. This tends to be their first contact with the judicial system, and often they don’t take things seriously. If they plead guilty, a judge can talk to them about alcohol, the dangers of underage drinking, and their responsibility to society; especially as it regards driving.

So, where is this all going?

In 2004 I had campaign signs with a brightly colored picture of me on my bicycle wearing the now famous, “safari hat”. I was wearing a brightly colored red t-shirt. Clay Thompson, a columnist for the Arizona Republic, was a resident in Mesa, and actually wrote a column about me just based on that campaign sign! He said I looked friendly, and reminded him of the Australian children’s musical group, “The Wiggles” because they wore brightly colored t-shirts.

Clay Thompson passed away in 2018. He wrote a really popular column called Valley 101. Believe he lived in my precinct, but not sure if I ever met him. His column drew some attention to my signs, as did the signs themselves.

For some unknown reason, kids thought it would be fun to lop my head off these signs! At first, I was just replacing the signs, but then ran out of signs, so I had to use what I had. Probably having my head missing called more attention to the sign anyway! I felt like I was being chased by “head-hunters!” In some cases, entire signs went missing!

I had my phone printed on the bottom of the signs. Through some amazing fluke, a police officer ended up at the home of a young woman who had six of my signs in her backyard. I remember VERY clearly talking with the officer about what to do, and how to handle this. I asked him to explain to her how expensive each of these signs was. They really were back then, because it was a new printing technology. I also asked him to explain how important the signs were to my campaign. I don’t remember who the officer was, but I remember how fantastic he was in how he handled everything.

I got the signs back the next day, but I don’t remember how I got them back. I’m not even sure if I ever met this young woman or her family. As I’m writing this I’m beginning to think they left them in their front yard, and I just went and picked them up. No harm, no foul. The only thing I was out was my time, but what I gained was much more valuable. And, that’s what I learned from the officer, by how he handled things. I may have even gotten a note of apology from this young woman, as well.

Now, what she did was a prank. Under-age drinking is not a prank, it’s a serious matter! I remember countless conversations Judge Pearce (when I was a bailiff for him) had with kids regarding this violation. The best was when they were under eighteen, and the parents were standing with them. The conversation went something like this: “Now, your parents didn’t raise you to behave like this…”

My point is, that as your judge, I would have an opportunity to reach kids who are having their first brush with the law. It’s an important facet of what JP can provide to the community.

— Ed Malles