Election Year Round-Up: Candidates Angus Lee, Albert Lin, Chris Thew, Nattalie Cariker, Larry Heming, Alexander Wirt, Tracy Staab, and Ryan Whitaker.

I know it is an off year for elections, but there are still good election battles going on.  Let’s start with the Grant County prosecutor race.  It all started when Grant County Prosecuting Attorney John Knodell decided that he wanted to run for judge last Fall.  He ran for Ken Jorgensen’s seat.  When Knodell was elected judge, he resigned from his job as prosecutor in the middle of his term.  The commissioners then appointed Angus Lee for the position, who I blogged about in an earlier post.   Angus Lee is a charismatic, 30-something Iraq war vet who was working in District Court prosecuting such cases as DUI and assaults.

Angus Lee

Angus Lee

He was interviewed by the Grant County Commissioners, and must have charmed them because he was selected over several more experienced deputy prosecutors.  Angus Lee faces a electoral challenge from Albert Lin, an amiable ’97 Syracuse Law grad with lots of felony trials under his belt.

Albert Lin

Albert Lin

Things got interesting when retired judge Ken Jorgensen weighed in on the political race in a letter to the editor.  Jorgensen attacked Angus Lee as inexperienced, asking “Would you hire an attorney who had no courtroom experience to represent you in an important trial?  Grant County interim prosecuting attorney Angus Lee has only been in the county for little over two years. He was admitted to the Bar in July 2005 and hired by Grant County in 2006. He has never tried a felony case in Superior Court. He has not even tried a case in Superior Court since he was appointed.”  It is true that Angus Lee is a pretty recent law school grad, but his education was delayed while he served in Iraq.

The voters seem to be turning a deaf ear toward Jorgensen, because Angus Lee was ahead in the primary.   Now that he is retired, I will say that Jorgensen seemed to get a little ornery as time has gone on.   The last time I had a case in front of him in Grant County, he became annoyed at me when I requested color copies of crime scene photographs, as opposed to black-and-white photocopies.  Ooooookay.  As to Angus Lee and Albert Lin, I have worked a little with both, and both would seem to do a good job.  The election contest has lit up the blogs down there, see for example Grant County PowerNet. (Link has been removed.)

Meanwhile, up in Omak, Washington, we are witnessing an election battle for city council between Chris Thew and Nattalie Cariker.  Thew is a former reporter from the Omak Chronicle, and I enjoyed his news stories there.  He really seemed to try to cover all perspectives.  Reporters would seem to have good qualifications for running for city council.  They often sit through meetings, and are probably well versed on the Open Public Meetings Act, and Public Record Act.   Nattalie Cariker also knows a little something about the law, having worked as a police officer for the city of Brewster, and having studied criminal justice at WSU.  A big function of any city government is working with the police department.

Up in the city of Republic, retired-attorney Alexander Wirt faces a city council election challenge from Larry Heming.

In an election issue for Republic City Council is the problem of over population of tame deer, and selected=

Alex Wirt ran for Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney against me in ’98, and against other opponents in ’02 and ’06, but he never won.   He gave up his bar license when he retired, so he does not appear to pose an election threat against the current Ferry County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Sandona.  Mike Sandona faces re-election next year.  See earlier post.

In Spokane, lawyer Bryan Whitaker is taking on Tracy Staab for judge.

Bryan Whitaker

Bryan Whitaker

Bryan Whitaker is an attorney in private practice who also works as a pro tem judge.  He has highlighted the fact that he is actually a resident of the city of Spokane, while the incumbant Tracy Staab lives outside the city limits.  There is no requirement in the city code that a judge live in the city, but as a matter of Spokane pride this issue seems to have captured people’s attention.  The Spokesman-Review ran an editorial endorsing Tracy Staab and opining that the residency of the candidates should be a non-issue.  However, in an otherwise slow election year the Spokesman’s reporters continue to cover the debate on this issue.

Tracy Staab

Tracy Staab

The issue has dragged in other city officials who have been quick to get involved, including Bob Apple, who characterized Staab as a “carpetbagger” in an email.  Jim Camden wrote an opinion piece correcting his use of the term.   Tracy Staab has highlighted the fact that she received a higher rating from the Spokane County Bar Association, and has a broader array of support from sitting judges.

The job Staab and Whitaker are running for is the position of Municipal Court Judge.  The only criminal court cases that a Municipal Court Judge hears are misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors such as DUI, simple assaults, petty theft, and possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Both candidates have broad experience in their background including work as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer.

What are my predictions for the ’09 election year?  That would put the winners as Angus Lee, Chris Thew, Larry Heming, and Tracy Staab.  Time will tell.

As always, I welcome everyone to post comments, but please limit input to constructive, thoughtful comments.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR….
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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