Attorney Drew Foster was successful in his bid to unseat long-time incumbent Lewis Gregory for the Republican nomination for the Greenwood city judge’s bench.
Gregory, who has been city judge for nearly 28 years, will vacate the bench in January, after serving since 1996. Gregory said he was not ready to hang up his judge robes yet, but voters had other plans.
The race was close, but Foster prevailed with a vote of 52% to Gregory’s 48%.
The Greenwood City Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanors and infractions occurring anywhere in Johnson County, as well as violations of city ordinances. The court operates full-time and hears 1,200-1,500 misdemeanors and 4,000-6,000 infractions and ordinance violations each year. The judge also oversees a veteran’s court and a drug court, which are alternative courts aimed to rehabilitate offenders with respect to their special circumstances.
At issue this year was whether the city court needs a change as it sees a higher caseload with the growth of the city. Foster ran on a platform of modernization and consolidation of court services such as the city’s probation office with its Johnson County counterpart. Gregory, however, said a goal of his is to meet with other city court stakeholders to examine how to best handle the changing demographics of people who end up in city court.
Foster, one of the Greenwood’s staff attorneys, says he’s ready to step into the new role because he sees ways the office can improve: with more transparency, going paperless, passing judgments more quickly, reducing duplication of services and making it easier for people to interact with the court. He knows the court well from his former job with the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office, where he was assigned to represent the state in Greenwood City Court for many years.
“We need to make it easier for people to get to court to have their court dates, have recourse in the courts and move their cases along,” Foster said. “We need to make sure like motions are ruled on quickly, make sure people get their court dates quickly. Because justice, when it’s slow, it’s kind of being denied. You need to make sure you’re getting people into the court to get them heard.”
HOW YOU VOTED
Greenwood City Judge