FORT WAYNE – In the nine months since he took the bench in juvenile court, Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath has found his work the among the most rewarding of his career.
With that in mind, Heath wants another term and Wednesday announced his candidacy for re-election to the Superior Court bench and another six-year term.
He has not yet heard whether he will have any challengers for the position.
First elected in 1996 to be a judge in Allen Superior Court’s Civil Division, Heath took over the juvenile bench in Superior Court’s Family Relations Division after Superior Court Judge Steve Sims retired in April.
During a brief news conference Wednesday, Heath thanked his wife for her patience through his past campaigns. He also highlighted the work done by the staff and magistrates at the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center.
Since he took over the bench in the Juvenile Justice Center, Heath has implemented a number of initiatives, including privatizing the food service and seeking inclusion in the state’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative.
He also launched a mentoring program known as Check and Connect, aimed at keeping truant adolescents in school.
If re-elected, Heath hopes to deepen ties between the Juvenile Justice Center and local colleges and universities, establish problem-solving courts like drug court or re-entry court, and look into more evidence-based programs, he said.
There is no end of the programs we can put in place for the next six years, Heath said. We’re going to get so much done, he said.
Heath expressed concern about Allen County’s parents, in light of recent news reports. In the past month, news reports have included children suffering frostbite while in the custody of drunken mothers and living in squalid conditions in a motel where sex offenders also live.
This community needs to re-dedicate itself to good parenting, he said, adding that he hopes to make services more readily available to area parents.