OSCEOLA COUNTY — James Sims II, is running to be the next 77th District Court judge in Osceola and Mecosta counties. He is running on the platform of the "common man."

"I am from the people, of the people and for the people," Sims said. "I've lived through good and bad times. I have experienced what it is like to lose your job and not have unemployment or money saved. I know what it's like to get laid off from a job and to lose everything."

Believing that life experiences benefit his candidacy for judge, Sims said everyday life of working to make ends meet shaped him into to a person who understands the struggles of working men and women who sometimes go to bed hungry.

"The experience of going to bed hungry has opened my eyes to the situations some people deal with everyday around our two counties," Sims said. "I don’t think it is fair to sit behind a bench and pass judgment on people if you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes. I’ve worn out boots walking a mile in other peoples shoes."

Sims is running against Peter Jaklevic, of Big Rapids, for the 77th District Court judge position, a six-year term. Jaklevic is Mecosta County’s chief prosecuting attorney. The two are vying for the seat currently held by Judge Susan Grant.

Sims wants voters to know that his candidacy for judge is about giving everyone the satisfaction that they received a their day in court.

"I am truly unbiased," Sims said. "That is the key on who the next judge should be. People should be 100 percent satisfied that they were heard in court. I plan on coming in to make sure the people's satisfaction is met in court. Not everyone who goes to court will be happy with the result, but at least they will be heard."

Sims believes that accomplishments, like owning his own practice and understanding common struggles from business owners and people who can't afford to pay for goods or services, is an asset he brings to his candidacy for district court judge.

"I can empathize with business owners when people don’t pay their bills," Sims said. "There has been times when people haven't paid me. I can understand from the people's perspective when it comes to putting food on the table or paying a bill. Sometimes you have to prioritize. People who don’t have money have stresses others don’t."

Having compassion for people who are less fortunate than others doesn't mean special treatment, he added.

"I understand not everyone feels life's been fair," Sims said. "Life's not fair, but that's no reason to violate the law. What I offer to the people is a judge who will listen to all the facts on each side of a case before rendering a decision."

Sims is a lifetime resident of Osceola County, graduating from Reed City High School and completing undergraduate studies at Ferris State University and law school at Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Ann Arbor.

With 16 years of experience in the legal field, having worked as a special deputy for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department, a drug test agent with Osceola County parole and probation, a law clerk for attorney Kim Booher, an attorney in his own practice and serving four years as the prosecuting attorney in Osceola County, Sims feels he has a background that makes him the right candidate for voters in November.

"I have a broad legal experience that doesn’t consist of one aspect of the legal system," Sims said. "I’m on the probate court contract in Mecosta and Osceola counties, I practice in our district court and circuit court, as well as in courts throughout Michigan. That amount of knowledge gives me an understanding of each side of the law."

Because Sims has been affiliated with law enforcement agencies and has been an attorney for plaintiffs and defendants in criminal cases, he understands how the process works, he said.

"I understand the police side of the law, the prosecuting attorney's side of the law and a defense attorney's side of the law," Sims said. "It's important to have that broad view of the law in regards to the district court."

Because district court sees more than criminals cases, Sims feels he is more rounded and the right fit for the district court bench.

"You have to have experience in all aspects of the law, not just criminal law," Sims said. "District court is more than just criminal cases. It's small claims, landlord and tenant, and many other cases. I have that knowledge. I can hit the bench running without much training, which I think is an important aspect I offer the people of our two counties."

Sobriety Court is another aspect of the 77th District Court that Sims supports, but believes the program can improve and needs to be reviewed.

"The numbers coming out of the Sobriety Court on recidivism seem high to me," Sims said. "I think there is going to have to be some reformation done to the system, as well this system needs to have more participation from Osceola County.

Sims feels the people of Osceola County are often overlooked for the Sobriety Court program.

"The option of Sobriety Court is offered more readily in Mecosta County than to those in Osceola County," Sims said. "I think it is a good program, but I also think it has some issues that need to be addressed to get higher numbers on success rates and a lot less on recidivism."

Sims also believes the District Court system between the two counties is unequal.

"As a defense attorney, I'm hearing Mecosta County treats offenders easier than in Osceola County," Sims said. "I'm only expressing what I hear from clients and the people when I am out campaigning.

"It’s the general public's view that if you break the law in Osceola County you are going to be treated a certain way, but if you go to Mecosta County you will be treated in a completely different way. If this is the case, it shouldn’t be that way. There should be standardization of the court between the two counties."