Alabama Chief Justice candidates square off in debate - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Chief Justice candidates square off in debate

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

It's expected to be one of the biggest statewide races this March during the Alabama Primary.

Voters turned out to Taylor Road Baptist Church as two of the three Republican Chief Justice candidates debated issues like budget cuts, judge requirements, partisanship and violent crime.

"I don't know Chuck Malone.  And I know Judge Roy Moore, but I came here just to see what they had to say," says undecided voter, Lester Ezekiel.

While many may tell you their minds are already made up, another undecided voter says the debate made all the difference.

"I have confirmed my beliefs now, and so I will be voting," says Reese Hodges.

Perhaps one of the things voters say they liked the most--the candidates were nice to each other--making for a refreshing political environment.

"No trash-talking.  No back-stabbing," says Ezekiel.

"It wasn't so petty.  They weren't argumentative. They kept to the issues at hand," adds Hodges.

"Respect starts at the top and in order to instill that throughout and have other judges doing the same, I have to lead by example.  So I'm going to respect my opponent," says Chief Justice Chuck Malone.

"He's a gentleman, I'm a gentleman.  I think that we have differences, no doubt.  But that's not to take away from the fact that he's a gentleman.  He knows the law," says Judge Roy Moore.

But when it comes to the issues, both candidates admit budget cuts are the most pressing--which is why they say their goal is to get that message straight to the legislature.

"Once they understand and they see in these tough times that the third branch of government, if we do not have it, functions improperly, it's going to have a direct impact on our economy," says Malone.

"People are starting to take notice and they will bring the pressure upon the legislature," says Moore.

Both candidates say they've held this position at times when budget cuts were needed. They say the budgets for the next few years will be just as difficult as this financial season, but both believe they're up for the task. 

Republican candidate Judge Charlie Graddick could not attend because of a prior engagement in Mobile.

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