The race for justice of the peace in the Kyrene District is, so far, peaceful

In a forum at the East Valley Tribune office on July 15 the two Republican candidates, John McComish and Darryl Jacobson-Barnes, talked about their experience, the role of a justice of the peace and ways they might improve the efficiency of the office. Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Patrick Murphy, who is running as an independent, and one of two Democrats: Elizabeth Rogers or Elvis Richardson, who is running as a write-in candidate.

Jacobson-Barnes is a grass-roots activist and owner of All-Star Insurance Agency. She said legal research has kind of been a hobby of hers over the years, and she feels her extensive experience leading different groups in the community makes her a perfect fit for the job.

“My experience is all over the map and pretty much fits every aspect of justice of the peace,” she said. “I have the confidence when needed to take charge and the demeanor that people are willing to follow my ability to take charge. I also have very sound judgment and the ability to look at all sides of an issue and understand all the consequences. That’s particularly important in insurance industry. It’s the same thing in the courts whether dealing with domestic violence case or orders of protection or search warrants.”

McComish is retiring from a long run in the state Legislature. Most recently, he was in the state Senate representing District 18. He’s also a former small-business owner and had a long career in corporate America. He said he’s running because he was encouraged to but also because he enjoyed watching another justice of the peace as he counseled those who came to him for guidance.

“I’ve been in a discernment and decision-making mode for quite a while,” McComish said. “I think making those decisions you have to decide what’s best, right and fair thing to do. That’s a discipline I’ve been involved in.”

Both agreed their role as justice of the peace will be to listen and make decisions that are fair and impartial.

To make the office more efficient, McComish said he’d have to ask the court manager, someone who has been in the justice court for some time, for ideas to improve the court’s function.

Jacobson-Barnes said she would like to see more done electronically and a more centralized way for residents to understand where to file court paperwork and how to go through the process. She said her ability to read people and understand cases would also be useful for cutting down on time spent in mediation.

“One of the people I talked to while walking said they had a situation where they had a contract and they 100 percent met the requirements of the contract and the other person sort of wanted a blue-light special for lack of a better term,” she said. “They knew they weren’t entitled to it. When he took him to court to pay, the judge mandated they go to mediation. The business owner had to miss time at work to go to mediation, didn’t reach a settlement, still had to go back to court. To me, that is an inefficient use of the court’s time. A little fact-finding would help and speed things up.”

Jacobson-Barnes said she has a long and complicated résumé to back up why she would make an excellent justice of the peace. She’s led and been a part of dozens of committees over the years and thinks the courtroom is the perfect place for her to share her experience.

McComish said he’s running on his reputation. He’s received awards recently from a wide variety of groups thanking him for his time in the Legislature.

“I’ve been on the fireline for the last 10 years,” he said. “I’ve been at the point where the pressure is and making decisions that effect the welfare of the entire state. Making decisions of the people who are standing before me in a court is nothing new to me and something that I have practice in and a discipline with … You have to be in charge and have a sense that the person with the gavel in their hand is in charge. I’ve been playing that role for some time now.”

For more information on Jacobson-Barnes, visit For more information on McComish, visit To view video of their full answers in the forum, visit

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