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Tesmer faces Andrews in District Attorney race

The Second Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney’s office is up for grabs in the Democratic Primary on June 1.

Both candidates believe they are the stronger of the two and both believe their experience will win out for them.

They are the incumbent, John Andrews, and Charlotte Tesmer, who left an assistant D.A. post in 2001 to go into private practice.

Andrews

Andrews is married to Susan S. Andrews.

They make their home in Greenville and he has two children from a previous marriage.

They are Cemira Price, 34, and Jeff Andrews, age 31.

Price graduated from Fort Dale Academy and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Troy State University that she attended on scholarship.

Jeff Andrews graduated from Greenville High School, attended Marion Military for his freshman year. He then transferred to Troy State for his sophomore year. And he has graduated Magna Cum Laude from Faulkner State University in Bay Minette with an Associate’s of Science Degree in Golf Course Management.

Andrews is a grandfather, and all attend public schools.

They are members of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church and he is on the board and is a past president of the Kiwanis Club.

He is a founding member of the Butler County Boys and Girls Club and is on the board for the Children’s Advocacy Center and is a member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Tesmer

She is married to Chris Tesmer and they make their home in Greenville, who she married in 1985.

They have two children, Casey, 12, and Cody, 10.

Their children attend Fort Dale Academy.

Prior to attending FDA, Casey attended preschool at the Atlanta Highway Church of Christ; Cody attended preschool at the Greenville Y.M.C.A. Tesmer said her children attend Fort Dale because it is in their children’s best interest.

They are members of First United Methodist Church of Greenville where she teaches senior ladies Sunday school and she is a member of the Greenville Rotary Club.

She is a co-founder of the Butler County Children’s Advocacy Center.

She worked for retired District Attorney Van Gholston for over 14 years where she served as chief assistant district attorney.

Andrews and Tesmer both received a copy of the same questions and were asked to respond.

They were told they could answer all, skip or any questions they chose.

The following are their responses:

GREENVILLE ADVOCATE (GA): If you had a personal, ethical or moral issue with a law that you were charged with enforcing, how would you resolve your dilemma?

ANDREWS:

My oath as District Attorney charges me to enforce the laws of the State of Alabama. And that is what I do. Regardless of my personal feelings, I uphold the law.

TESMER: I have taken an oath to uphold the law and I will do my best to do so. Should I have a personal, ethical or moral issue with a law I am charged with enforcing, I would recuse myself from the case and ask another attorney to handle the issue if I believed I could not carry out the law.

GA: What are your priorities on issues related to the district attorney’s office?

ANDREWS:

When I took office as District Attorney, I found several areas that needed immediate improvement. The worthless check unit needed to be revised. This unit collects bad checks for individuals and businesses. I made this one of my first priorities.

The restitution recovery program was revamped. This program collects restitution for victims.

When I took office as District Attorney, the relationship between the previous District Attorney’s office and law enforcement was strained. I undertook to establish a good working rapport with all the law enforcement agencies in my circuit. I’ve also held seminars to inform law enforcement on changes to laws. I’m called out to all of the major crime scenes in order to advise the investigating agency if any legal questions arise.

TESMER: My priorities on issues relating to the Office of the District Attorney are as follows:

1. The District Attorney should be a strong advocate for victims of crime. The District Attorney must insure that victims rights are fully protected.

2. Prosecution of cases should be done in an impartial and efficient manner. Undue delays affect both the victims of crimes as well as those accused of crimes.

3. The District Attorney should be available to the law enforcement community to answer legal questions and provide advice regarding criminal cases.

The District Attorney should be a good steward of public funds.

GA: Describe the most important duties performed by the district attorney.

ANDREWS:

The most important duty I have is to uphold the rights of all citizens. I prosecute and convict the violent criminals, the child molesters, and the drug dealers. My office works hard to collect bad checks and recover restitution for the victims of crimes. I’m working to find alternative punishments for non-violent offenders.

TESMER: The most important duties performed by the District Attorney are protection of the rights of the citizens of the circuit, the prosecution of criminal cases and wise use of funding.

GA: Do you support the death penalty?

Why or why not?

ANDREWS: I support the death penalty in certain instances. I feel the punishment should fit the crime. I intend to seek the maximum punishment under the law for all violent offenses.

TESMER: The Legislature as seen fit to provide for the death penalty in certain cases. The District Attorney is sworn to uphold those laws; therefore the District Attorney must do so. I believe the death penalty should be treated with great scrutiny due to the fact that numerous death penalty cases have been overturned and/or death penalty defendants have been proven innocent of the crimes they are accused of committing. It should be noted that it is less expensive to house someone for the remainder of their life rather than to sentence them to death and execute them.

GA: Do you believe former Chief Justice Roy Moore deserved being removed from office for not obeying the rule of law?

ANDREWS: Yes. Judge Moore took the same oath of office I did and that was to uphold the Constitution and the Laws of the State of Alabama. The proper approach to the problem was for him to get the legislature to change the law.

TESMER: I believe former Chief Justice Moore should have followed the higher courts order and worked within the system for what he believes is right. In order to maintain social order, we all must follow our laws. We have the power to change our laws through the election of those who we believe will implement changes we support. I believe we can share our belief in and support for God by our words and actions.

GA: Why do you want this job?

ANDREWS: Being District Attorney is what I’ve always wanted to be. I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of the youth of my circuit. I am locking up the violent criminals to make our community safer. I’m looking for alternatives for non-violent offenders. I have lived and worked in this community for 35 years and I want to be instrumental in creating a safe and vibrant community for our young people and old alike.

TESMER: I want to be the next District Attorney for Butler, Lowndes and Crenshaw Counties because I want to serve the citizens of our circuit. I believe my experience as a prosecutor from 1987 until 2001, and my experience as a private attorney from 2001 until the present has shown me to be a fair, honest and dependable public servant. I am concerned for the victims of crime and want to assist and guide them through our legal system. Also, I want to work with the law enforcement community to make our counties safe places in which to live.

For more of the Q&A, see the printed edition