The Race to Replace Judge Zinetta Burney


Earlier this afternoon I met up with Sam Blair on the Air, KG Smooth, and these three candidates for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 7, an open seat to replace Judge Zinetta Burney who announced her retirement last year.  Among those running to replace her are her daughter, Sharon Burney, and Cheryl Elliot Thornton who's run for in the past for other judicial seats.  We're not going to talk about them just yet.  Instead, I'm going to tell you my views on these three candidates who answered my last minute request to chop it up on 97.9.

All three candidates arrived to the studio before me.  Ray donning a campaign t-shirt, Audrie in lawyer-esque business casual attire, and DC in denim from head-to-toe with one of those cowboy bolo ties.

It started off pretty snooze-worthy with each candidate giving their 60-second polished pitches.  Ray and Audrie were both ready for this---something you end up doing on the campaign trail a lot.  DC, not so much.  

I've had the chance to chop if up with these folks over the phone, via Facebook, and in-person today, so here's my take on each of the candidates.


Of the three candidates, Audrie has the most legal experience.  She packs an impressive resume including work on the other side of the bench in JP courts, and is quick on her toes, too.  She's a Delta.  She's charismatic.  She's the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic.  Before I met her in person, I'd heard about her from some of my close friends who've been singing her praises after meeting her at screenings or other judicial events.  

I spoke to her by phone a few weeks ago asking her about her run.  She mentioned how she wants to work with non-profit organizations, and how she wants to make her court more accessible to the community.  She mentioned pro-bono work she's done with Texas Organizing Project around Hurricane Harvey legal issues for residents dealing with slumlords, and she runs a tight ship.  She even showed volunteered an afternoon recently for Houston Justice's #ProjectOrange.  Like Ray and DC, she's very responsive to emails, Facebook messages, and the like. 


Omega Psi Phi's stated purpose has been to attract and build a strong and effective force of men dedicated to its Cardinal Principles of manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift, and Ray has always shown himself to be the epitome of their purpose.  I didn't have to do too much research on Ray because I've known his work over the years.  From his work on housing with the National Urban League, to his volunteerism, Ray is one of those people never chasing the camera or spotlight, instead always in the background doing THE WORK.

Ray touts his experience working on issues in the community as his strength.  He's served on the District Attorney's transition team, on the Mayor's Independent Police Oversight Board, and now he's running to become Justice of the Peace for a community he and his family have deep roots in.  In addition to his reputation, he has the benefit of sharing a name with his father, the other Ray Shackelford.  This will obviously be an added benefit.  For those that might not know the younger Shackelford, they know his father, and this will benefit him when people log in to that e-Slate machine.


Well, he is.  An Eagle Scout, actually.  DC is the type of conservative that keeps multiple copies of the US Constitution on him... in multiple languages.  How do I know this?  He offered me one once the interview was over.  If DC sounds familiar, it's because he ran against Carolyn Evans-Shabazz last time around.  Or, it might be because he's the Thurgood Marshall School of Law student that caused an uproar around the invitation of Republican State Rep. Briscoe Cain coming to speak to students as a Federalist Society event.  

During today's radio interview, DC seemed to try to spar with Audrie Lawton for some reason.  It happened more than once.  After she gave her introductory remarks which included a bit on what Justices of the Peace actually do, DC attempted to correct her.  He did this at least three times during the interview.  For what it's worth, DC is tenacious.  He explained how he fought his own party to end up on the ballot.  Whether I agree with his politics or not, that's admirable.

Who will you support to replace Judge Burney?

I live in Precinct 7, so I'll have to make my own decision as well.  I think I've made up my mind.