Incumbent faces two challengers in East Ridge judge race

Incumbent faces two challengers in East Ridge judge race

June 28th, 2014 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Cris Helton

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Incumbent East Ridge City Judge Arvin Reingold faces two challengers running their first campaigns on the Aug. 7 ballot.

Reingold, 83, was appointed judge in 2002 and has won re-election since.

"I'm not running against them, so to speak. I'm running because I believe I have the most experience and [am] most qualified," Reingold said in a recent phone interview.

Former East Ridge City Attorney Cris Helton, 52, who is running for the post, said he respects Reingold but "there is a very real perception in East Ridge that there is no real punishment in East Ridge for those convicted of criminal offenses."

Local attorney Ryan Hanzelik, 39, also seeks the judgeship. He and Helton both have pointed to streamlining the court docket, which meets on Tuesdays. Both say cases should be prepared for hearings before victims and witnesses are called, so as to delay unnecessary waiting on their part.

Hanzelik pointed to East Ridge resident engagement in City Council meetings, online communities and Neighborhood Watch programs as a way to further community involvement outside of the court.

He'd like to work with the Hamilton County Juvenile Court to build a mentoring program for East Ridge youths who enter the court system. Hanzelik also said he wants to ensure that misdemeanor offenders assigned community service for offenses in the city do their service in East Ridge.

Reingold has been licensed to practice law in Tennessee since 1957. He has one public censure from 1999 listed on the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

The censure relates to his failure to "timely file a brief" in the Court of Criminal Appeals. The reprimand was not considered an ethical issue.

Helton has been licensed in Tennessee since 1990. He has two public censures listed with the board. One from 2003 relates to his "failure to deposit a retainer fee" into a trust account until earned.

The other reprimand is from 2008 and relates to his handling of an estate. Specifically, the board charged him with "failing to properly administer an estate and failing to respond to court orders."

Helton responded to questions about both censures by the Times Free Press in an email stating that he had built in safeguards to prevent the earlier mistake from recurring and that the estate issue was related to his acting as an executor, not an attorney.

"I'm sorry that either matter occurred and I would hope that the voters realize that we are all very human and we can all make mistakes," he wrote. "Neither matter affects my ability to practice law nor do they affect my ability to be a Judge in East Ridge."

Hanzelik has been licensed to practice in Tennessee since 2006. He has no public disciplinary actions listed on the board's website.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter@tsouthCTFP