Still, Kent County Commission Chairman Steven Heacock isn’t absolutely certain that he will seek one of the two newly created seats for the 17th Circuit Court. Although his petition drive to get on the ballot has been underway for a few weeks, Heacock told the Business Journal last week that a final decision on whether or not he would run would be coming in a few days. He did say, however, he was more than half certain he would run.
“My struggle is that I’m not certain that this is what I want to do. I’m still working through the decision-making,” he said.
Heacock said that some of his closest friends thought he might seek a state legislative post because of his current involvement in public policy at the county level. But he noted that he has already endorsed candidates in the state Senate and House races that he is qualified to run in, and wouldn’t think of pulling his support. Besides, he said, he considers serving on the state judiciary as the most important position a lawyer can attain.
“I will make a final decision on whether or not I’m running for judge within the next two weeks. I’m certainly walking down that path. It’s better than 50-50 at this point,” he said on Tuesday of last week.
Two of the factors that encouraged Heacock to go ahead with the petition drive were that he enjoys serving the public and likes being a lawyer. Other elements that played roles in his decision were his background in business and law, his feeling that justice is a vital ingredient in the quality of life for a community, and his desire to stay in the area.
Candidates need to file petitions containing 2,000 signatures of registered voters by Tuesday, April 30. Those who qualify will be on the primary ballot in August and the top four vote getters will face off in November. Two winners from that election will claim the pair of judicial seats in January. At least a dozen candidates are collecting ballot signatures.
Heacock and Priority Health parted company about two weeks ago. He served as vice president of development and general counsel for the managed care company since 1997. Before going there he was at Warner, Norcross & Judd for 13 years, a former partner and trial lawyer who specialized in business and health care law. He also is a CPA.
Heacock said he would stay on as county chairman and commissioner from the 5th District until his term expires at the end of the year. He will also continue to serve on the Convention and Arena Authority board through December, and added that he would remain on that panel if the county should select him as its representative next year.
“I stand willing and ready to serve and would like to do that. Now, it may be that the county would prefer to have an active commissioner in that role, and I certainly would respect that,” he said.
Heacock has been a CAA board member since its inception in April 2000, and was that group’s chairman until last January. He is in his third year of chairing the county commission.
“I just feel so blessed to have friends and supporters that care. I’ve had a number of people come up to me and ask what can they do,” said Heacock of the support he has received. “They say it casually, but it really means a great deal to me.”