If you set out to design the ideal background for a family court judge, you'd have a hard time improving on the preparation that incumbent Kathy Stein brings to the post.
And, after her first year on the bench, those familiar with family court give Stein high marks for judicial demeanor and the respectful, efficient way she runs her courtroom.
Challenger Jennifer McVay Martin has practiced in all areas of Fayette family court and has some ideas about how to shorten the time that abused or neglected children must spend in foster care.
But she can't compete with Stein on depth of experience, qualifications or temperament.
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Family court judges preside over a wide range of legal issues and human trauma and emotions, ranging from divorce and domestic violence to truancy and child abuse.
It's not surprising that Stein's learning curve was short, given her experience.
As a member of the legislature for 17 years, including a stint chairing the House Judiciary Committee, she helped write the laws she's now enforcing and gained familiarity with the public agencies and programs that serve families, children and the courts.
Before running for the legislature, Stein was the domestic violence prosecutor in the Fayette County Attorney's office. Before that she practiced as a public defender in Lexington. And before entering law school, she was a high school history teacher.
Gov. Steve Beshear named Stein to the bench last year after Judge Jo Ann Wise retired. Voters would be wise to ratify the governor's smart appointment by electing Stein.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Monday.