NEW FOR 2019: Griffin succeeds Johnson in District 1

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
A highly respected Hope citizen, businessman and educator as well as longtime Hope Lions Club member had made his debut on the Quorum Court on Wednesday almost under radar as James Griffin quietly assumed his seat as the District 1 Justice on the Hempstead Quorum Court.
Unlike the other two first-time Justices, Troy Lerew and Steve Atchley, both of whom faced election opponents, Griffin literally succeeded incumbent Monica Johnson with a pen stroke on the last filing day on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Johnson had decided not to seek reelection, and Griffin, who represents the bulk of inner city Hope, had no opponent either in the May 22 primary or the November 6 general election.
“I was born and raised in Hempstead County. I went to college at SAU, and then taught for a while. I owned and operated Tasty Freeze for five years, and then I went back into education for 24 years and I retired,” Griffin said.
Griffin’s father, Jimmy Griffin, had served as Hempstead County Sheriff for 12 years. Griffin himself said he was approached by then-County Judge Haskell Morse about the position, when Johnson decided to retire at the end of her term in 2018.
“He was visiting me at the house, and told me Monica was retiring and asked if I would consider that position. I sat around until the last day, and when no one filed, I decided this would be okay, and I filed,” he recalled.
Griffin cites continued economic improvement within Hope and jobs as his concerns in representing District 1 over the next couple of years.
“I would like to see some more improvements in District 1; there are some improvements being made in District 1 as we speak; downtown looks much different than it did just a year or two ago. There are things being done in downtown to make it look better, and that is what District 1 is, it is the City of Hope,” Griffin said.
“The next thing I would like to see us do is become more proactive in getting jobs for Hempstead County. If we are going to keep people at home, instead of training them to leave Hempstead County to find jobs elsewhere, we have to have good jobs here. I would like to see us more proactive in that,” he said.
“Everyone wants to talk about roads, and roads are part of it. If we don’t have roads we can’t get products to town, but jobs is a real concern for Hempstead County at this point,” he said.
Griffin points back to his own family, where he said his two daughters left for jobs and careers, and his roots in Hempstead County.
“My daughters are an example of one of those cases that neither one of them stayed at home; that’s why I am saying that we need jobs to keep our kids at home, but as far as roots, our family came to Hempstead County in about 1900; I grew up here so we’ve been around here for a while,” he said.

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