Judging the judges: Who’s worth your vote

Judicial elections are different from all other elections in Washington State.

Judicial elections are different from all other elections in Washington State.

First, if one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, he or she automatically wins the race and won’t appear on the November ballot. And second, most people don’t learn as much about the candidates as they want to know. But don’t worry. Here’s who you should vote for in the Aug. 19 primary and why:

State Supreme Court, Position No. 3: Incumbent Mary Fairhurst has far more money than her opponent, Michael J. Bond. But several of her decisions have been troubling.

She tried to strip Washington voters of their right to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal or not, and attempted to impose same-sex marriage via judicial decree. She is also weak on property rights. Bond, a private attorney with 28 years experience, including a stint as a judge advocate in the Marine Corps, offers a more balanced approach, along with a solid record and resume.

This race will be decided on Aug. 19.

State Supreme Court Position No. 4: Three contenders here, including 18-year incumbent Charles Johnson. Johnson could use a strong opponent, which is why I recommend a vote for James Beecher, one of the most respected lawyers in Seattle who has served as a prosecutor, trial attorney, arbitrator, mediator and Judge Pro Tem.

State Supreme Court Position No. 7: Debra Stephens, an appointee from eastern Washington, has no opponent.

State Court of Appeals: Two races. Both incumbents, Linda Lau and Ann Schindler, are running unopposed.

Superior Court: These are county courts that hear felony and civil cases, along with juvenile cases and divorces. Judges serve four year terms. There are six Superior Court races this year.

Position One: Three candidates. I’ll give the edge to Tim Bradshaw, a highly skilled prosecutor, with Assistant Attorney General Sue Parisien a close runner-up.

Position 10: Again, three contenders, two of whom shine: Regina Cahan, another senior Deputy Prosecutor for King County and Les Ponomarchuk, a Superior Court Commissioner with sterling credentials. I lean toward Cahan, but again, I’m hoping the two are matched up in November.

Position 22: Three women running but one easy choice: Julia Garratt, a Parole Board Member and Superior Court Judge Pro Tem. She has been both a prosecutor and a public defender. Garratt is a rising star who could one day end up on the State Supreme Court.

Position 26: Incumbent judge Laura Middaugh faces only token opposition from Matthew R. Hale. Too bad. She deserves a tougher opponent.

Position 37: There are three well qualified people running for this post. The best of a great field is Barbara Mack, a senior Deputy Prosecutor for King County who has spent more than 20 years putting bad guys in jail. Cops love her, but she also carries endorsements from a plethora of elected officials in both parties.

Position 53: This race will also be decided in the primary. Remember Mariane Spearman? She was the juvenile court judge who gave lenient sentences to two Eastside punks who drove by and pushed a minister off his bicycle, nearly killing him, six years ago. I’ll stick with Ann Danieli, who serves as a Superior Court Judge Pro Tem in Juvenile Court.

John Carlson broadcasts a daily radio commentary on KOMO 1000 news. E-mail him at jcarlson@fisherradio.com.