For the first time in over 20 years, Denton County’s Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace race has a Democratic candidate in the general election. Marianne Poer Vander Stoep says she firmly believes in the integrity and fairness the position demands.
The Democratic nominee for Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 said her stance is to follow the law and act fairly.
“It’s about fairness and integrity,” Vander Stoep said. “This position is about having integrity and not showing favoritism. To obey the law is what we should all strive for — it’s what I strive for.”
Vander Stoep said she’s normally a private person, but she’s excited to campaign in her first run for public office.
With more than 20 years of background in the insurance business, she has long held an interest in politics. When she visited her son Billy in Washington D.C., where he interned during the summer of 2016 in the midst of the presidential election, it sparked her interest even more.
“It was powerful to see the wheels in motion,” Vander Stoep said. “It did light a fire underneath me to want do more.”
Her son now works as a political advisor to various campaigns around Denton County for the Democratic party. He approached her at the end of last year as he went through open candidate positions and found Justice of the Peace would be up for election.
“[He] came to me and said ‘you’d be perfect for this,” Vander Stoep said.
She said she was a bit unsure at first, but her passion for the law pushed her to try.
“It didn’t seem so far-fetched [to run],” Vander Stoep said. “I love the idea of [running for office].”
Originally from New Jersey, Vander Stoep studied criminal justice before graduating from Bergen Community College with her associate’s degree in business. She sought a bachelor’s at the University of New Haven, but had to attend to a family emergency her last semester of senior year. She eventually moved to Manhattan and worked there for 10 years at the headquarters of Philip-Morris Company. After, she bounced around the country until she finally settled in DFW nearly 20 years ago.
As a single mom for eight years working full time to support her children, she wanted to make sure her family was steady before pursuing any time-consuming goals for herself, like running for political office.
“I devoted my life to my children,” Vander Stoep said. “I’m dedicated to service to others. I consider this [position] service as well.”
She’s served at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Lewisville for going on about 13 years. She said she was also active in PTA when her children were in school. While she never held an office, she said she was still highly involved in putting events together.
“I’m one for detail and organization and that’s what this position needs,” Vander Stoep said. “I’ve always been a business woman and I always took my civic duties seriously.”
Based off her current understanding of the position, she suggests one improvement she’d like to work on is streamlining the court systems to create a faster, more effective process. She said she had experience in business and criminal law, which would help her in the position.
“I’ve litigated claims in various capacities and worked with attorneys and investigators,” Vander Stoep said. “I’ve dealt with certain aspects of the laws more than most.”
She also stressed the importance of not allowing outside factors to sway decisions as judge.
“It doesn’t matter race, creed or gender, law is law and should be followed,” Vander Stoep said. “We can’t stop the indifference, racism and poverty but we can make the things we care about better by working with others.”
Should she not win the election, she plans on finishing the criminal justice degree she started and go into law school.
Vander Stoep faces Republican nominee James Kerbow in the race for Justice of the Peace for Precinct 3. Election day is Nov. 6, with early voting starting Oct. 22.