Pictured, from left, are Fani Willis, Kevin Farmer and Bobby Wolf.

Whoever wins the three-way race to fill the seat of retiring Fulton County Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell will have plenty of prosecutorial experience.

Two candidates have spent nearly their entire careers working to send criminals to jail, while the third has worked both sides of the criminal bar.

The Daily Report caught up with them on the campaign trial for a quick Q&A before the May 22 elections. The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Name: Kevin Farmer Age: 49 Law school: Mercer University Walter F. George Law School Website: farmerforjudge.com

Farmer is a University of Wisconsin undergrad whose family moved to Georgia in 1982. His early experience in the law came as a file clerk at Fisher & Phillips, followed by a trek to Montana and a stint working as a bartender before he returned to attend Mercer, earning his law degree in 1996.

After a few years with the Fulton County Office of the Public Defender, Farmer went into private practice, handling general business litigation for about 10 years.

“I already knew I wanted to build the experience to be a judge,” said Farmer. He bumped into Dennis Francis Jr. of the Metro Conflict Defender Division in 2011, “and Dennis said, ‘I need somebody to go into Judge Adams’ courtroom now.’ I said, Sure,’” recalled Farmer.

He stayed with the Conflict Defender until about two and a half years ago, and signed on with Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson as a senior prosecutor.      

Farmer is married and has two teenage daughters.

Farmer has raised $19,072 in contributions, and loaned his campaign $24,000, according to an April 6 campaign finance report.

Daily Report: Why do you want to be a Superior Court judge?  

Because Fulton County needs good judges, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a calling. I’ve seen good judges and I’ve seen bad judges. I’ve seen judges who treat their courtrooms like they own them, and who treat people with contempt. I’ve seen judges who call 9 a.m. calendars and stroll onto the bench at 10:30 a.m. I’ll treat everyone who comes before me with respect.

I’ve been here 35 years—since the ninth grade—this is my home. My community. I’m invested in it.

What do people say concerns them about the courts when you’re out campaigning?

I get several questions. One of the first is, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” So then you have to explain what a nonpartisan election is, that a judge has to put politics aside because everyone is supposed to be equal before the law.

Then they ask, “What do you think of the president?” “Are you liberal or conservative?” I get a lot of gun-control questions, people concerned that judges are making the law. I have to explain that the Gold Dome is where people make laws, not judges.

The lawyers I speak to are concerned about being consistent and on time. Civil lawyers and criminal layers have different concerns. Civil lawyers want to minimize their time in court. They like the fact that I’ve had some civil background.

What would you like readers to remember about you?

That I’ve really tried to establish the diversity of legal knowledge I think a judge should have, and that the citizens deserve. Having practiced in all these counties before all these judges, I have the temperament to help people settle their disputes without having the court insert itself into those disputes.

Fani Willis Age: 46 Law school: Emory University School of Law Website: www.faniwillis.com

Willis came to Atlanta in 1993 to attend law school at Emory after receiving her bachelor’s degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C.  

She spent four years in private practice “doing whatever came through the door,” said Willis.

Willis then spent a couple of years working as a prosecutor for Atlanta city Solicitor Raines Carter before moving up the street to the office of Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr., where she stayed for more than 16 years. She rose to executive assistant DA in the Complex Case Division, trying “literally hundreds of felony cases.”

Willis is the mother of two adult children and “happily divorced.”

Her April 6 campaign finance report showed Willis raised $107,876 in contributions.

Daily Report: Why do you want to be a Superior Court judge?

Three reasons. One, Fulton County courts have a problem with backlogged cases. People are sitting there for four or five years waiting for their cases to be heard. Civil lawyers refuse to even file in Fulton because they’re so backed up.

I’ve spent years advocating for victims, but you also have to sympathize with the defendants. How do you go and find witnesses after three years? I know I could move cases faster.

Second, being a lawyer is a hard job. You work long hours for your clients and the cause. I think members of the bar should be held accountable, but there’s no reason for lawyers to be treated in any ways that’s not respectful. They should operate in an efficient and professional way, but they should not be embarrassed in front of their clients.

Third, no one should ever be personally attacked. Justice should be blind but it’s not always. I don’t want to see another victim discounted because of her lack of education or because she’s black. We all have to remember that it’s the public we serve, and that it’s an honor to be there.

What do people say concerns them about the courts when you’re out campaigning?

It’s what I said before: They want their cases to move—I’m hearing that from lawyers and citizens. They’re concerned about judicial efficiency. They don’t want to keep taking time off of work and coming to the courthouse five times and having nothing happening on their case.

What would you like readers to remember about you?

That I have a reputation fort standing up for those that can’t stand up for themselves, regardless of creed or religion or color. I have a record of service.

Bobby Wolf Age: 51 Law school: University of South Carolina School of Law  Website: www.wolfforjudge.com

Wolf was born and raised in Fulton County, graduating from North Springs High School before earning an undergrad degree at Virginia’s Washington and Lee University.

Wolf, a career prosecutor, said he became interested in criminal justice while participating on a moot court at law school, and was further drawn in during an internship with the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.   

Wolf spent three years with the Cobb County solicitor before moving to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, working under the late Lewis Slaton and then for Paul Howard Jr.

After 18 years in Fulton County, Wolf felt it was time for a change. He joined Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter in 2014.

Wolf said his experience in the Fulton office included helping create its first case-management system and—when he was its director of its probation—utilizing the methodology employed by accountability courts and expanding it so that probationers were also afforded extra support and guidance.

Wolf is the married father of an 8-year-old son.

His April 6 campaign finance disclosure said he collected $64,957 in contributions and loaned his campaign another $20,000.  

Daily Report: Why do you want to be a Superior Court judge?

There are few elective positions that have such a profound impact on the lives of every individual, such as a Superior Court judge. They can take your children, your house, your liberty and they hold people responsible for their actions. I’ve served the community as a prosecutor for many years, and I want to use that experience to bring the best possible outcomes to the job.

A judge should have a broad range of experience, and given my work in Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties, I have that experience and public safety background. I’ve tried every kind of case: murders, sexual assaults, you name it. I’m a Fulton County kid who wants the Fulton County court to live up to its potential.

What do people say concerns them about the courts when you’re out campaigning?

There are a lot of concerns, but there are two I hear a lot. One is having a judge who is a steady public servant and leader who takes the job seriously without taking himself too seriously. They want an effective, efficient steward of taxpayer resources.

The big one is to protect the community. Everyone is concerned about public safety and crime. But you also have to be able to balance that. Look at the accountability courts, for example. You have young, nonviolent offenders, and a judge can help that young person get back into the fold of family and community. It resonates with people that we’re talking about human beings, and you need to treat them with dignity and respect.

Lawyers want a predictable judge who will follow the law. What they don’t want is a wild card.  

What would you like readers to remember about you?

As a prosecutor for over 25 years, I have the most courtroom experience of anyone in this race. My extensive involvement in the community is also influenced by my experience as a prosecutor. I’ve worked in three counties, and I’ve seen efficiencies and inefficiencies in all of them. I have the knowledge and the skillset to bring that discernment to the bench.