The voters of Hamilton County will select a General Sessions Court judge when they go to the polls today and, of all the candidates on the ballot, it is my belief that the best qualified among all of them has gotten a raw deal. David Norton has a temporary illness that has jumped up and greatly impaired his right to get a fair trial from those he most wants to serve.
Back in the day, my grandmother had the same thing. We called it palsy and while she was sharp as a tack mentally and delightfully funny about how it made her hand shake when she would try to lift a tea cup, all of her grandchildren knew it was embarrassing to her until – poof – one day it suddenly went away.
His opponents in the race have leapt on his condition but, worse, have egged on the news media to make us believe he won’t be able to serve if he’s elected.
Hogwash! I talked to him yesterday afternoon and he told me point blank: “I feel fine,” he said. “If elected I’ll be able to serve fairly and diligently. I have an appointment Monday at Vanderbilt and once that’s done, there is no reason whatsoever I won’t be back on the bench. I sure do want to!”
For David Norton to be denied a vote by any of us would be a travesty. He’s clearly the courthouse favorite, admired and respected by all for the way he masterfully assumed Bob Moon’s bench after Judge Moon suffered a fatal heart attack. His decisions are clear, based on vast knowledge of the law and – equally important – a calm temperament for every person who comes before him.
“I’ve made great progress in the last several weeks,” Judge Norton said yesterday. “My only problem, to be real frank, is with my hand-writing and it is perfectly permissible for an assistant to sit beside me and write as I dictate. I’m eager to get back to work and very thankful for those who have helped while I’ve recovered.”
I already voted for Judge Norton because I think he’s the best candidate, but if you need further proof, allow me to introduce a high school classmate of mine who cares about the judge very much – his former wife. You got that? After their marriage got tangled, Lauren and David Norton have continued to maintain a deep and lasting friendship in a way that would make any other divorced person cry with gratitude.
Lauren, who once sat with me in Spanish class, shared a letter with me that she wrote not long ago and today, no matter if he wins or loses at the polls, I hope you’ll agree this tribute to her former husband is the most beautiful endorsement for a public office you have ever read:
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I would like to give you a personal perspective of David Norton who is running for General Sessions Court Judge. David’s appointment by the Hamilton County Commissioners after the sudden death of The Honorable Bob Moon was a time of both sorrow and happiness for me, as Bob and I were graduates of the Class of ‘69 at Chattanooga High School. Bob was a fine man who loved his community and served it well! A tough act to follow … but I believe that David Norton will continue to serve the citizens of Hamilton County equally as well.
“Fortunately, I was a part of the Norton family. Pastor Dr. Ralph and Louise Norton, who helped to build Red Bank Baptist Church, instilled in their children a commitment to family and helping others. David worked his way through the University of Chattanooga and Memphis Law School, and his three children also helped with the expenses of their higher education. It remains a very close knit family that loves to laugh, and sometimes cry together.
“Several days before being sworn into office on March 6, our son’s neighborhood was devastated by the tornado that hit Hamilton County. We are appreciative of all emergency responders, volunteer workers, and government officials who provided immediate assistance after the storm, and are most grateful that no lives were lost.
“I view David Norton as an ordinary man working for the extra-ordinary residents of Hamilton County. There will be no monuments built for him, but he has loved our community with all of his heart! His desire for the position is not self-serving. After 28 years as Assistant County Attorney and 27 years as the city judge in Soddy Daisy, he certainly has the most experience for the position of Sessions Court Judge.“David and his family have a great sense of humor … so through the years, I’ve have politely reminded him that underneath his black robe, he is no different than I am. As his former wife, we have a unique relationship in that we have remained close friends. I respectfully urge you to vote for David Norton in the upcoming election for Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge.”
Lauren Bowden Norton
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Let’s not lose a treasure. Vote for David Norton today.