The Constitution-Tribune begins its meet the candidate feature today with the introduction of Democrats Brent Elliott and Bill Burris, who are both seeking the office of circuit judge for Division 2. There are no Republican candidates for this office.

The position is currently held by Elliott, 56, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Jay Nixon in 2009. Burris, 44, of Plattsburg, currently serves as the Clinton County prosecuting attorney.

The 43rd Judicial Circuit includes Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb and Livingston counties. Voters in each county elect an associate circuit judge to serve their county and the voters of all five counties together elect two circuit judges whose jurisdiction extends to all five counties.

These two circuit judges are elected in two divisions, 1 and 2. Incumbent Judge Tom Chapman, of Chillicothe, is uncontested in both the primary and general elections for Division 1.

The two candidates for Division 2 were invited to submit brief biographical information and a general candidate statement (300 word limit).

Bill Burris

Age: 44

Family: Wife, Jennifer; and one daughter

Residence: Plattsburg

Occupation: Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney

Education: Finance and Banking degree (University of Missouri), Law degree (Washburn University School of Law).

Experience: Clinton County prosecuting attorney for six years. Former municipal prosecutor in Plattsburg.

About the Candidate:

An election for a judge is different than an election for a Congressman or Senator. A judge does not create laws or promote a specific agenda. A judge must interpret and respect the laws enacted by the other branches of government, and apply the law to facts that are before the court. This requires a respect for the law and for the courts in which we serve. All officers of the court have an obligation to act with respect and integrity in doing the public's call. We must do what we know is right.

Having served as prosecutor for the last six years, I have worked to bring a level of respect and integrity to our courts and our system of justice. I am asking for your support so that we can bring that same respect and integrity to the office of Circuit Judge.

Every action of our judges must be considered under the highest level of scrutiny. This election is an opportunity to hold our judges accountable for their actions, inside and out of the courtroom. We must hold our judges to a higher standard.

Finally, we need our courts to be smart on crime. We need to go beyond "break the law, go to jail." This has overcrowded our jails, cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it has not reduced crime or solved problems. We must lock up those who need to be locked up. But that is not the only option. With drug courts being used in most Missouri circuits, and veteran courts being created to help returning soldiers and to stop making criminals out of our heroes, we can and should be doing more to make our courts work better for us.

I ask for your vote and appreciate your support. Thank you.