Being a fiscally conservative Republican and doing my own research, I believe the contrast between the two candidates for probate judge could not be starker. The citizens deserve as much information as possible to make the right decision.

The Aiken Standard candidate forum was an excellent opportunity for the candidates to present their qualifications, experience, goals, and proposed initiatives. Jane Page Thompson very clearly laid out her objectives, explained why she is running, and how she intends to improve the probate court functioning. She subjected herself to pertinent questions from the moderator and, in my opinion, responded very cogently.

Thompson, is a fiscal conservative and has highlighted the fact that the current Aiken County Probate Court has 14 employees and an annual budget of more $850,000; yet, (for the past three years has spent an average of $470,000 per year than it has generated in revenues). Nearby Anderson County expended only $455,000, while handling twice the number of cases with only nine employees.

As probate judge, Thompson, among other improvements, will reduce operating costs, hold probate hours in North Augusta and Wagener, add a secure electronic filing platform, conduct mental health hearings in area hospitals, pursue probate court reforms, partner with hospice and not serve more than two terms or double-dip.

Unfortunately, her Democrat opponent, although she was at the forum, refused to participate. Evidently, she did not feel it important enough to inform the citizens why she should be continued in office. Does she believe that she is entitled to the office by virtue of her tenure?

As an informed voting citizen, it is important to know the facts about each candidate. Thompson very astutely presented her facts. Therefore, I recommend Thompson for probate judge.

Zee Homoki