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of lengthening the terms that a judge
serves. Right now, it’s four years for
trial courts and six years for courts of
appeal. I think moving toward longer
terms would help alleviate the pressure
that elections put on courts.
What are some things that surprised
you about the process and why?
I think one of the most surprising parts
of it was how political it can become
and how much pressure there is to take
positions on topics that may well come
before the Court, which points out to
me the need to redouble our efforts in
civics education to better explain the
role of the courts and a judge in a system of government divided as ours is.
So that surprised me a great deal. And
then, how expensive it is to run a statewide campaign, which increases the potential for pressure, political pressure,
and people feeling like they are owed
something because they supported a
candidate. I think that’s an unfortunate
reality of elections, that you have to
run a campaign, especially if there isn’t
a voter’s pamphlet statewide and the
candidate needs to explain to the public who he or she is. It takes that kind
of outreach and running and that surprised me the most.
You won your election by a substantial margin, but in some areas of the
state, your opponent, who didn’t even
campaign, drew a surprisingly high
number of votes. Associate Professor
of Political Science at the University of
Washington Matt Barreto conducted
research that concluded this was in
part due to racial bias. Assuming lack
of voter information played another
part, how can we inform the voters?
I think it’s going to get better every
year. I believe that information is the
ally of the qualified candidate and
ignorance is the enemy of that candi-
date. Voters want to choose well; vot-
ers want good judges. I think it’s hard
for them to know how to evaluate that,
and often voters look for the familiar
cues that they look for when voting in
other races and partisan races. And
there’s a need for a richer, more com-
plex, more nuanced set of information
for the voters to consider. The task is
getting that information out there.
I believe that I would have done bet-
ter in the state had voters throughout
the whole state had at a minimum a
voter’s pamphlet. A pamphlet was only
published in 4 counties; there are 39
counties. So that means 35 counties
had voters with no information but a
ballot with two names on it and voters
had to go out and find that information
on their own before voting. And I think
that was unfortunate.
In addition to increasing civics educa-
tion early on for folks and in addition
to ensuring that our voters have the
information they need to make an in-
formed decision, is there anything else
that can be done by the State Bar, affin-
ity bar associations, and candidates to
address these issues?
Lawyers have an important role to
play in judicial elections. We all know
that we’ve been asked by people who