P-I Endorsements: Retain Justices
Friday, July 25, 2008 Washington's early primary Aug. 19 means that many important election races will be run in almost-stealth modes. That's too bad, and not particularly helpful to democratic participation. Candidates for the Washington Supreme Court are cases in point: The newest member of the court is running unopposed and the low-turnout primaries could decide two other races.
Justice Debra Stephens was appointed in December to complete former Justice Bobbe Bridge's term on the court. She now runs unopposed for a six-year term in Position 7. When Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Stephens, we praised the selection because Stephens' Eastern Washington background was an ideal way for the court to represent the entire state, and not be "Western Washington's exclusive chamber of law." We remain impressed.
The court's Position 3 is another race that will be decided in the primary: It pits incumbent, Mary Fairhurst against Seattle lawyer Michael Bond. We are impressed with both candidates, but think Fairhurst deserves re-election. Among many qualities, she brings a public-service background to the court, having previously worked in the state's Attorney General's Office. She adds an important voice of balance.
We'd also like to think that the court's Position 4 will be decided in the primary (meaning one candidate will have to top 50 percent). There are three candidates, including incumbent Charles Johnson. Johnson has been on the court for 18 years and is the senior member. We think Johnson is a clear choice for re-election.
The election of judges unlike other political races requires voters to take a leap of faith by supporting candidates who are independent, clear-minded and fair. These three justices on Washington's Supreme Court do just that and they deserve new six-year terms.
Friday, August 1, 2008 Of the 53 King County Superior Court judge seats available, the majority 47 have singular, uncontested candidates. The overwhelming majority of the candidates with whom we met for the six more interesting seats up for grabs, were beyond being simply capable. They were impressive, committed professionals with a wide, often bipartisan base of support and endorsements, who sought to serve the public.
However, choices had to be made.
As the sole challenged incumbent, Laura Gene Middaugh is the right choice for Position 26 and ought to be re-elected. With about four years of experience as a lawyer, what her opponent has in ambition, he lacks in crucial experience, in his profession and in life.
Middaugh, by contrast, is more than qualified. She has a decade of experience as a nurse, 17 as a lawyer and eight as a Superior Court judge.
For Position 1, we endorse Susan Amini. Her pro tem experience combined with her varied professional background, community activism and focus in providing access to justice make her an ideal candidate. She is running against two strong candidates, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Bradshaw and Assistant Attorney General Suzanne Parisien, both of whom are solid and have the tools to do the job. But Amini brings the sorts of extras to the table that are crucial experience in immigration law, family law, including domestic violence and juvenile cases.
Regina Cahan is our choice for Position 10. Her love for law and for serving the community have been a theme throughout her career, especially in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault, where she has a long history of good work, be it in Australia, Israel or the U.S. While she has limited pro tem experience, Cahan is experienced in the county court, having worked in the prosecuting attorney's office in both the civil and criminal divisions for nearly a decade.
The cream of the crop also showed up for Position 22, with three qualified, dedicated and sharp candidates. Each embodies fairness, patience and heart, and sports an impressive resume to boot.
We endorsed Julia Garratt in 2004, and could have done so this year as well, but for one of her opponents, Rebeccah Graham, whose diverse background and calm demeanor would be an asset to the bench. Her passion for the law and her six years of experience as a pro tem judge make her an ideal candidate.
Similarly, while all judicial candidates for Position 37 were experienced, Jean Rietschel was the most impressive. A Municipal Court judge for 12 years, Rietschel has a record for being fair but tough. She's ready to step into the job and is prepared to deal with the county's budgetary challenges.
In Position 53, we were struck by Ann Danieli's interest in Juvenile Court. When we asked her why she was drawn to that area, she responded that while it could, at times, be depressing, she found Juvenile Court to be "a place of hope." She's not speaking from a naοve perspective: Danieli has worked as a pro tem judge in King County Superior Court and Juvenile Court for four years. Our courts will benefit greatly from what these talented, dedicated individuals will bring to the bench.
On the Web: See remaining King County Superior Court judge candidates at votingforjudges.org.
VotingforJudges.org, P.O. Box 1460, Silverdale, WA
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