By Mary Yu
This November you will have an opportunity to cast your vote for a number of important public positions. One of the positions that deserves your attention is the office of judge. In particular, you will have the opportunity to decide who sits on our State Supreme Court.
There are nine Justices on the Washington State Supreme Court. We are elected to six-year terms and our terms are staggered so that every two years, three justices are up for election. The staggered terms preserve continuity of the court. This year, Justices Owens, Gonzalez, and Gordon McCloud will be on the ballot. Justice Steve Gonzalez is the only one who has an opponent.
The truth about judicial elections is that most voters feel they do not have enough information about judicial candidates, and so they opt out of voting in these races. An alternative fallback position is to vote based on name familiarity. Justice Steve Gonzalez is being challenged by an individual named Nathan Choi. An “Asian sounding” name might be attractive to our community, especially if you do not have sufficient information about his lack of qualifications. But, please don’t be fooled by a name.
Justice Steve Gonzalez was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2012 and was subsequently elected for a six-year term. Prior to his appointment, he served as a trial judge in King County Superior Court for ten years. Justice Gonzalez practiced both criminal and civil law. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington, a Domestic Violence Prosecutor for the City of Seattle and in private practice at a Seattle law firm. I have served with Justice Gonzalez as a trial judge and now at the Supreme Court, and he is intelligent, hard-working, efficient, thoughtful and committed to community service. His background and experience in the position makes him uniquely qualified to remain on the Supreme Court, and he is someone you can trust.
His opponent, Nathan Choi, has never been a judge. This is the second time Choi has filed against an incumbent judge (he previously ran against Judge Michael Spearman) without filing the proper paperwork with the Public Disclosure Commission. He has been cited for violating local election laws regarding signage and he has refused to cooperate with any of the bar association evaluations.
I urge the Asian Pacific Islander community to exercise the right to vote for a judge based on competence and experience and not because a name sounds like someone from our community.
Justice Steve Gonzalez is an excellent jurist with broad support from leaders in our community. Justice Steve Gonzalez merits your support.
If you are looking for more information about judicial races, go to http://www.VotingforJudges.org and see how each candidate has been rated.
See related article at Justice Yu: Don’t be fooled by the Asian sounding name.