Posts Tagged ‘election’

Judicial Race Takes Shape in Stevens County – Gina Tveit v. Ronnie Rae

An interesting judicial race is taking shape in Stevens County.  Judge Gina Tveit is defending the position of District Court Judge, to which she was appointed last year by the county commissioners.  (Her campaign site is here.) Challenging the incumbent is Spokane criminal defense lawyer Ronnie Rae who bought a home in the Loon Lake area in 2006. Driving through the county, you can see Gina Tveit signs up, but I didn’t see any for Ronnie Rae yet.  Ronnie Rae has been practicing law for 6 years and is just 32 years old (I have blogged about young candidates in the past here).  The only precedent I could find in Eastern Washington for a judicial candidate so young was 33-year-old John O. Cooney, who beat Mark Laiminger to become a Spokane District Court Judge.  But Cooney had name recognition – has dad was also named John Cooney and he was a judge too.

It seems like in judicial elections the race frequently comes down to name.  In 1990 the Chief Justice Keith Callow of Washington State, a widely respected judge who drew little controversy, was thrown off the bench by voters who chose instead a 39-year-old Charles Johnson who had never been an elected judge and who did not campaign.   Political analysts concluded that voters did not know either candidate and so they picked the one with a familiar-sounding name.  Then in 1998, some knucklehead named “Jim Foley” ran for Supreme Court and boasted of having the advantage of a name voters might mistake for Tom Foley, a former congressman and speaker of the House.  Foley beat an incumbent justice in the primary, but lost to Faith Ireland.  Ireland herself changed her name to “Ireland” from Enyeart a few years prior because it would be “easier” for people.

Let’s wait and see what happens with this judicial race in Stevens County.  Tveit is pretty popular in Stevens County, it seems like Rae will have one heck of a hill to climb.

For more on other judicial races see here.

18-Year-Old Candidate Loses Spokane City Council Race

I had high hopes for Greg Ridgley, the 18-year-old Spokane city council candidate.   He was young, nervy, and full of new ideas for the Lilac City.  And lets face it, he would have provided lots of things to blog about.   I wrote about him last month here.  At 11:05 a.m. an individual named “bonzai” posted a comment on that article predicting: “Today is judgment day for young Mr. Ridgley. I bet he gets only 3 or 4% of the vote in today’s primary.”

Well, right you were, the results were released at 8:00 p.m. by the Secretary of State, and Mr. Ridgley only received 3.34% of the vote.  Mr. bonzai made a good prediction.  The results of the election are here.

The 3.34% that Ridgley received was way lower than lawyer Steven Eugster received at 16%, and he ran for election after having been suspended from the state bar.   Eugster was known for suing the city of Spokane.    Ridgley, did however, soundly beat (by a 3-2) margin David Elton, a candidate for city council who recently was arrested for threatening to kill the council president, according to news stories.  Maybe that was the problem – the protest vote was split this year.  If you are really fed up with city government, do you vote for:  1) an attorney that sues the city,  2) a man who allegedly threatens to kill city officials, or 3) do you vote for an 18-year-old out of protest?

Maybe the protest chic of voting in an 18-year-old has worn off.  18-year-olds can and do win election races, according to news stories.   But I started to worry about Greg Ridgley’s chances when he never really developed a strong internet campaign.  It seems if you are young, you at least have to use the medium that favors your demographic.  Also, when I would travel to Spokane for court, I really didn’t see his campaign signs up.  He made a lot of campaign appearances, and I am sure he really got a lot of public speaking experience.  He seems to be taking the election loss in stride.  His latest posting on Facebook is “Greg went all in and lost in Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.”

Indeed you did Mr. Ridgley.  We hope to see you again.

Who would you like to see on the ballot for next year's election for Ferry County Sheriff?

I know, I know, the election is over a year away, but a year goes fast in politics.  And it is never to early to talk about who you might want to see on the ballot next year. Below are four possible names to consider.  The list consists of gentlemen who have run for Sheriff in the past or have been “nominated” by people making comments in my blog.  See May 24th’s Poll for Ferry County Sheriff.  Keep in mind that none of these men have announced any candidacies, but we can give them encouragement right now.  As for me, I am undecided for now as to who I think would be best.

Feel free to comment on why you think each person would be good for the job too.  (Comments that are positive about the person you are encouraging to run will be more likely to be posted then negative comments about who you do not want to run.)

Upcoming Poll on Potential Sheriff Candidates for 2010 Election

On June 8th, I will be posting a poll to gauge what the public might be looking for in a Sheriff candidate next year in Ferry County.   Who do you think might be a good candidate?   As of now, I am going to post Pete Warner, Tom Williams, and Bret Roberts.   I don’t know what plans they might have on whether or not to run, but those are the three individuals in the area that have run for Sheriff in the past and are still employed in law enforcement.   Does anyone have any other suggestions for anybody else who should run, or should be included in this poll?   Have your suggestions in by the 5th.

Large Pay Raises for Washington’s Rural Prosecutors Spur Speculation on Candidates

It is not too often that you hear about public officials getting a 60 or 70 percent raise in a given year; but that is exactly what happened to many of Washington’s prosecutors last year.   The biggest beneficiaries were the elected prosecuting attorneys in Washington’s most rural counties. Many of the small town prosecutors toiled away for years making 45 or 50 thousand. Until July of 2008. In that hot summer month it wasn’t the heat that was making the small-town prosecutors of Washington swoon. It was the heady feeling of new found economic largess. That July in Garfield County, for example, the elected prosecuting attorney went from making 52 thousand per year to a 100,000. In a rural county closer to my home, the elected prosecutor went from 62 thousand to 106 thousand per year. The rationale of the pay raise was explained by the executive director of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. As covered by a blog of the News Tribune, McBride explained that small counties often have trouble finding people to run for prosecutor because it pays so little. And when they do find someone, they stay only one 4-year term and then go back to private practice so they can make more money. Well, McBride was right.  Prosecutors are now hoping to stay in office alright, but their new found glee was short-lived as they quickly realized they would have a target on their back in the next election of 2010.

Is it just me, or am I the only traveling lawyer who has gotten sick of all the speculation as to who is running for prosecutor in such counties as Ferry, Garfield, Okanogan, Stevens, Columbia, Asotin etc.?  It seems like small town defense lawyers, divorce lawyers, etc are already trying to recast themselves as potential candidates for prosecutor.  I am a former prosecuting attorney myself, and maybe that is why a defense lawyer recently approached me for advice on how they can work his image for a 2010 candidacy. Defense lawyers who have for years opposed the death penalty and have publicly supported the legalization of drugs are now working to garner a conservative, law-and-order vote.   Will these defense lawyers still have the same zing to their cross examinations of law enforcement officers?

It seems like incumbent prosecutors are also feeling the pressure from potential new arrivals escaping the economic downturn.  It is no secret that there have been considerable lay-offs at the larger public defense agencies in this state, as well as larger firms laying off newly hired associates. Some of these attorneys are filtering down to smaller counties. Transplants are discovering the liberal residency requirement for candidates in this state. Under State law, a candidate must only live in the county in question for 30 days before he declares his candidacy. Many of these small towns are quite a bit off the beaten path, and don’t see too many new lawyers in town. When I am on the road for court, or even here in town, I am regularly asked if I am planning to run for prosecutor.   How do you tell people “no” and have them accept that?  When I say “no, I am not running for prosecutor” it seems like people always study my face for a minute to see if I am being coy.   There are already three- and four-way races discussed.   The year 2010 should be interesting for those of us sitting on the sidelines.  What do you think?  How much will these pay raises change the 2010 prosecutorial election races?

(Steve Graham was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Ferry County in 1998 when he was 28. He did not run again.)

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Photo of Steve Graham Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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