As primary election ballots have already been mailed for the August 7th election, we wanted to take a moment to share our recommendations with you on those elected positions which will influence the law, the right to a jury trial and access to justice. As personal injury trial lawyers, we are particularly interested in maintaining independence, impartiality, integrity and competence in these elected public officials. We realize that the ordinary voter has very little basis in fact to distinguish between these candidates, particularly for the judiciary. Therefore, as lawyers who interact with the law, the courts, the judiciary and public officials everyday, we thought that we would share with you our endorsements of some of the candidates in the primary. In addition to the judiciary, we also want to discuss our views on four other races on the ballot that are of great importance to citizens and civil justice: Governor, Attorney General, Commissioner of Public Lands and Insurance Commissioner.
WASHINGTON STATE SUPREME COURT:
Position 2: We urge you to vote for incumbent Justice Susan Owens. Justice Owens has ably served on the high court for twelve years, while her opponents have no judicial experience. She is intelligent, articulate, honorable and a superb member of the Supreme Court.
Position 8: We urge you to vote for the newly-appointed incumbent Justice Steve Gonzalez, a former Assistant US Attorney, King County Prosecutor, and King County Superior Court Judge (10 years). He was appointed to the bench last year following his outstanding record throughout his legal career and his commitment to access to justice issues across our state. In contrast, his opponent has been rated “not qualified” by his local colleagues in the bar association in his races for lesser judicial offices. Justice Gonzalez will be the first person of Hispanic origin to be elected to the Supreme Court or any other state-wide public office. Please note: The primary election is “the” election for any judicial candidate that gets fifty percent (50%) plus one vote. That means, in two-candidate races, such as this, the winner will be elected in the August primary. With only two candidates on the ballot, this race will be decided in August. Justice Gonzalez embraces every quality you would want of a Supreme Court Justice and needs your vote to get elected on August 7, 2012.
Position 9: This is an open seat being vacated by Justice Tom Chambers, who is irreplaceable as a champion for the rule of law, citizens’ rights, and access to justice. This race drew a strong field of qualified candidates. However, we urge you to vote for Judge Bruce Hilyer, a former prosecutor and a superb sitting King County Superior Court Judge.
WASHINGTON STATE governor:
In the Governor’s race, Congressman Jay Inslee is the clear civil justice candidate. Prior to public office, Jay was an attorney representing victims in Yakima. He then began a long career of public service where he has diligently protected citizens’ constitutional and civil rights, and been a champion of worker and consumer protections. In contrast, his opponent Rob McKenna has fought to remove or reduce citizens’ ability to hold government accountable through the court system. For example, McKenna’s first request to the Washington Legislature as Attorney General would have taken away the right to hold the government or ANY government contractor accountable—whether from poisoned food in schools, faulty bridge construction, or any other number of the most reckless or careless acts that lead to serious injury or death. It was shocking that our state attorney, Rob McKenna, would propose such a lack of accountability and justice.
WASHINGTON STATE attorney general:
The Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the State of Washington and its citizens, and 90% of the office’s job is representing the state in civil cases. We believe it is critical that the Attorney General believes in a government accountable to the protection of its citizenry, and shares a commitment to going after the powerful special interests that harm the public by abusing our laws. We strongly recommend Bob Ferguson for this job. Bob is a lawyer and King County Councilman, who has committed his campaign to the same issues he has committed his public service to thus far: protecting public safety, going after fraudulent actors like mortgage lenders and servicers, prosecuting polluters, and protecting taxpayers against fraud and abuse. Bob would be a champion for us all as Attorney General and deserves your vote.
WASHINGTON STATE COMMISSIONER of public lands:
Commissioner Peter Goldmark is the finest Public Lands Commissioner to ever hold the office. He is the first Public Lands Commissioner to hold a graduate degree in science (a Ph.D. in molecular biology). He is a scientist, not a politician. He is also a farmer, a rancher and a true conservationist from Eastern Washington. He has dedicated his life to agricultural science, education and public service. As Public Lands Commissioner, he is charged with the job of protecting and preserving our public lands and precious resources, and he has done so exceptionally well for the past four years. Please give him your vote for re-election.
WASHINGTON STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER:
Last but certainly not least, incumbent Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler must be re-elected for a fourth term. Commissioner Kreidler has been the number one champion in the state shaping our insurance system to try and make it work for ordinary consumers in every line of insurance. The Insurance Industry writes $30 billion worth of business every year in our state, and he uses his office to fight to make sure consumers are actually getting the coverage they pay for, fighting delay or denial of legitimate claims, and trying to reduce rates and create a fair system. His presence is particularly important with the advent of the Federal Affordable Care Act and related healthcare concerns.
We hope our recommendations will be helpful to you. We are sharing our views with you because of our strong belief and commitment in our office that every client who walks in our door seeking a chance for justice through the court system depends on these public servants. Please, feel free to share this if you think it’s helpful with family and friends. Regardless of your views on these races, though, please make sure you vote on August 7th. We owe it to each other to participate and have our voices heard in our electoral process.