By Jesse Wood
Josh Teague, a candidate for District Court Judge, held a meet-and-greet event at the Fairview Café, located at the Boone Golf Club, on Wednesday.
The event was sponsored by Tom Speed and hosted by Richard Pedroni, Tina Houston, Andi and Rob Gelsthorpe, and Elizabeth Hempfling. The event was paid for by The Committee to Elect Josh Teague.
“I am here to support my friend, Josh Teague. I’ve known him a long time and support what he does,” Pedroni said. “He’s a good worker and a good person in the community.”
Hempfling, who described Teague as a man “with heart who cares about the community,” said Wednesday’s event was a chance to celebrate the impact he’s made in the community as an attorney representative for the Watauga County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and a board member of the Mediation and Restorative Justice Center, a nonprofit that his campaign says provides court services to eleven counties in Western North Carolina and administers the Drug Treatment Court in Watauga and Avery counties.
“Last night was just our way of local friends and supporters coming together for a celebration of what he’s done so far,” Hempfling said. “I wish him luck with the election over the coming days.”
Speaking to High Country Press at the event, Teague said that he’s “hoping to improve the way the court system serves the community” by running for District Court Judge for the 24th.
He said that the court system needs to do more proactive work for the community by addressing issues, such as mental health and substance abuse, that bring people into the court system to begin with.
While most of the programs available through the N.C. Department of Corrections are available to people who have been in and out of the court system several times, Teague said that about half of the population in Watauga County, for example, is under 25 years old and therefore may be entering the system for the first time.
“If we can get them the community resources, treatment that they need early on then they won’t be coming back into the courts on the same type of behavior, and it helps their future prospects and limits damage to their record,” Teague said.
Teague said that he’s been working with Chief District Judge Ted McEntire, who is also up for election but running unopposed, to expand the drug treatment courts beyond Watauga and Avery counties and beyond just criminal courts.
Teague is challenging incumbent 24th District Court Judge Becca Eggers-Gryder.
“I think there is a lot of good that can be done,” Teague said. “I hope whoever wins that the work we are doing is going to at least go forward.”