Had Vernita Lee Bender’s brother not been murder during her junior year of college, she most likely would not have been led to a law career.
Bender, a candidate for a Southern Judicial Circuit judgeship, wanted to be an English professor and even considered journalism as a career.
The murder of her 19-year-old brother in her hometown of Moultrie changed the direction of her life.
“I wanted to ensure everyone receives justice,” Bender explained.
A Moultrie native, Bender, if elected May 20, wants to return to Moultrie and maintain the Superior Court judge’s office being vacated by Frank Horkan, who retires Dec. 31.
“This is where the office is and where the office will remain,” Bender explained.
She wants to serve the area, “particularly my hometown.”
As Valdosta Municipal Court judge, Bender administers her court’s budget and calendar, taking taxpayers’ money into consideration. As a Superior Court judge, she would be equally as vigilant to ensure tax dollars are used wisely.
In her court, Bender tries to reduce the burden on taxpayers by putting defendants who do not pay fines and fees to work on Valdosta municipal projects.
The candidate wants to make sure children are safe. Mother of two, Bender said, “I am concerned about the world they’re growing up in and safety.”
She said that as a Superior Court judge, she can serve the community and have a say-so about the safety of small children.
Because she is a sitting judge, Bender considers herself the most qualified candidate for the judgeship.
She also has worked in the district attorney’s office and been in private practice.
In response to a question about her view on the death penalty, Bender said, “The death penalty is a legal, valid punishment. If it’s authorized under the law, it should be applied.”
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.