Dave Arand

Franklin County Presiding Judge Ike Lamke has appointed A. David Arand to fill the seat of Franklin County municipal judge until the end of the current term.

Arand was selected from a handful of eligible municipal court judges from cities in Franklin County.

“I’m honored to be selected to serve the citizens of Franklin County,” Arand said. “I’m not sure who else applied and I haven’t asked. I’m happy to get it.”

Arand was sworn in by Lamke Thursday, Jan. 2, and presided over his first municipal court session that evening.

“This is pretty much a turnkey operation,” Arand said. “I plan to continue to do what I always have. Run a fair, just court and be respectful of everyone.”

Arand, 63, Union, has served the last nine years as the municipal court judge for the city of Union and the last eight as the municipal court judge in St. Clair.

Arand has a law practice in Union with 33 years’ experience in various areas, including criminal, traffic, DWI, estate planning and estates.

Running

The municipal court judge position will be up for election in November 2020. The winner will serve a four-year term.

Although he has been on the job less than a week, Arand is optimistic about his future service to the county.

“When the seat comes up again, as long as I’m in good health, I’ll be running again,” Arand said.

In 2018, Arand ran for the municipal court judge position but was defeated in the Republican primary in August of that year by former presiding judge Gael Wood by a 57 to 42 percent margin. Arand received 7,952 votes to Wood’s 10,553.

Wood went on to win the general election over Democrat Bill Stahlhuth by a 68 percent to 31 percent margin.

He was elected to a two-year unexpired term, but after serving just one year, Wood abruptly submitted his resignation to the county commission and left office Dec. 31.

While running for the seat in 2018, Arand told The Missourian he was drawn to the position because it felt like a continuation of his municipal court career.

During his time in Union and St. Clair, he said he’s enjoyed being around the legal community and the position would allow him to continue that, just in a different venue.

Duties

The municipal judge position may not be as attractive to potential judges since the salary has been cut by nearly half.

In late December, the Franklin County Commission slashed the annual salary of the county’s municipal court judge by more than $11,000, dropping it from $26,360 to $15,000 per year.

According to the commission order, the lower annual salary won’t go into effect until after the next term of the county municipal judge begins in 2021.

The county commission had asked all county departments to look for ways to save money in the future and Wood recommended the salary cut due to the small amount of time the municipal court judge spends hearing cases.

The municipal court is held every Thursday at 5 p.m. in the Franklin County Historic Courthouse on the third floor in the Edward A. Stierberger Memorial Courtroom. The court handles traffic citations, planning and zoning code violations, and health and building code violations.

Judges

Arand is one of five men to hold the position since the court was created in 2012.

Since 2016, there has been a high turnover in the office, with four men serving as municipal judge in just over three years.

Wood was preceded by Craig Hellmann, who was the first person elected to the position in 2016, but his tenure was cut short when he was appointed to be a circuit judge by then Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens after less than one year on the bench.

Union attorney Scott Fulford was then appointed as the Franklin County municipal judge Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017.

Fulford served in the municipal judge role until the end of 2018, but did not seek re-election, opening the door for Wood to win the seat.

The first Franklin County municipal court judge was former Circuit Judge Walter Murray, who came out of retirement to help the new court get on its feet. He served four years from 2012 until the end of 2016.