by The Candidates
Position Four -- Patti Connolly Walker vs. John Rodgers
Patti Connolly Walker
Judges bring to the bench life experiences and legal backgrounds that are indelibly etched into their worldviews. The candidates for position No. 4 have dramatically divergent backgrounds that should be considered by the voters.
Only Candidate with Judicial Experience: Patti Connolly Walker is a Spokane County District Court Commissioner appointed by our nine District Court judges. She handles the same cases she would preside over as District Court judge. She currently serves as the Domestic Violence Commissioner, ruling on approximately 75 to 100 domestic violence cases per day. Walker is the only candidate with judicial experience. Her opponent, John Rodgers, has a singular legal background as a career criminal defense attorney.
Legal Background Tough on Crime: Commissioner Walker graduated with honors from Gonzaga Law School. For over 14 years, she has devoted her legal career to public service and the protection of families in our community. Before taking the bench, Walker served as a Deputy Prosecutor, tirelessly pursuing sex offenders and pedophiles who troll the Internet and victimize children. Walker set up the High Tech Crime Unit and prosecuted these cases. Her experience has given her a keen perspective on victim rights.
Controlling Urban Blight: As an assistant city attorney, Patti gained extensive expertise in civil litigation and appellate law. She was called upon to write, implement, and defend City and County ordinances regulating adult bookstores and entertainment facilities such as Deja Vu. The purpose for these ordinances was to separate adult facilities from our schools and children, lessening the adverse impact on our neighborhoods. When the ordinances were challenged, Walker successfully defended their constitutionality in state and federal courts.
Broad Support from our Community: Walker has widespread support across political boundaries. She has the overwhelming and sole endorsement of our community's law enforcement leaders and agencies because of her strong record of protecting our citizens.
Active in Our Community: Patti is married to attorney Michael Walker; they have three children. She has been active in numerous volunteer and professional organizations, serving as President of the Washington Women Lawyers and Young Lawyers' Associations, Spokane Chapters, and as a member or trustee of numerous other boards and organizations. Patti's volunteer work includes PTO President and Juvenile Court Guardian ad Litem. She gives back to the community by coaching youth hockey, a sport that she continues to enjoy playing herself.
Statement: "I've worked hard to protect the children and families in our community. As a Commissioner, I hear each case on its own merits and treat every person appearing in my courtroom with dignity and respect. We have many valuable programs in District Court that allow us to be proactive and efficient in the administration of justice. These programs ultimately lessen the number of repeat offenders. For those who are not amenable to treatment or who choose a life of crime, incarceration is an appropriate option. I have demonstrated an ability to distinguish between these offenders and make the tough decisions to safeguard our community. I would appreciate your support on November 5, 2002."
John Rodgers -- I am running for District Court Judge because I am committed to making Spokane the best possible community in which to live. A court operates in a particular community. The more a judge knows of the community, the greater the potential to serve that community. For 50 years I have walked these streets, observed public affairs, and raised children here. I know the jurisdiction. Unlike my opponent, I am a lifetime Spokane County resident.
Campaigning for judge is difficult because the campaign rules for judges prohibit candidates from commenting on "anything that may come before them," which includes most issues that the voters want to know about. Therefore, I am barred from discussing my position or thoughts on actual "issues," but conscientious voters might consider these factors when deciding their votes:
THE BAR POLL--People understandably ask lawyers about judicial candidates. The Spokane County Bar Association asked over a thousand lawyers to rate the District Court candidates in four areas: integrity, legal experience, legal ability, and judicial temperament. The results were tabulated by a Washington State University professor of political science. In all four categories, I received the highest rating of any candidate evaluated for any District Court position, including a sitting judge and my opponent. My opponent received the lowest marks.
EVALUATIONS--The Washington Women Lawyers Bar and the Spokane County Bar Associations conducted judicial evaluations for this election that involved lengthy questionnaires about education, legal and non-legal experience, and minority and gender issues. References are checked and candidates are interviewed by a panel. I received the highest rating, "Exceptionally Well Qualified," from both the Spokane chapter of the Washington Women Lawyers, and the separate evaluation by the Spokane County Bar Association. I am the only candidate for this position who received the highest evaluation from both associations.
ENDORSEMENTS--Organizational endorsements are often given on a first-come, first-served basis, for a variety of personal or political reasons, often without hearing from or knowing about other candidates! An executive committee may endorse a candidate without polling the rank-and-file. Individuals endorse based on their personal knowledge of the candidates. I am endorsed by judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, law enforcement personnel and many citizens, as well as organizations that are important to this community.
EXPERIENCE--District Court is predominantly a criminal trial court. There are civil cases also, but eight of the nine judges are usually hearing criminal cases. I have been a lawyer for 25 years, specializing in criminal law of all kinds. My livelihood depends on knowing the rules of evidence and trial procedure. I have at least a decade more experience than my opponent.
WORK ETHIC--District Court has more cases than any other court. I was a public defender for 15 years, handling the staggering caseloads of that busy office. Nine years ago I founded my own firm. My opponent has never practiced in the private sector nor represented individuals. I work hard to practice law, represent clients' interests, and manage a small business.
Position Five -- Jim Reierson vs. Greg Tripp
My name is Jim Reierson and I would like your vote! It would be a privilege and honor to serve as your District Court Judge, Position 5. I believe I am the right man for this judgeship during these dangerous and violent times. Crime is out of control. What is needed now, more than ever, is a specialist in the field of criminal law.
Jim Reierson has been a prosecutor since 1982. Jim is fair but tough on Meth dealers, sex offenders, burglars, rapists, robbers, vandals, and pet killers. The Spokane Police Guild has endorsed Jim. Jim has served his country in both the Navy and the Air Force. Jim genuinely cares about victims, will actually listen to them, and ensure their rights are met. Jim believes the jail is never overcrowded when public safety is at risk.
Jim is a lifelong resident of Spokane and a 1968 graduate of Gonzaga Prep. Jim is engaged to be married, and enjoys hiking, swimming, and golfing with his fianc & eacute;e. Jim is the son of Dr. Pete and Margaret Reierson.
The majority of cases heard in District Court are criminal. The judge in charge of the court needs to be an expert in the law, familiar with all the offenses brought before the court, delay tactics often used by defense attorneys and able to utilize all tools (jail, fines, probation) to modify criminal defendants' behavior.
Jim has been a public defender during his career as well as an Assistant Attorney General in Arkansas where he assisted the Arkansas State Police. Jim is known as a diligent, hard-working prosecutor, but courteous and fair to all he deals with. Jim believes the public, who decides who will have the privilege to serve them, should require a judge to be a specialist in the area of criminal law. Most people want their doctor to be very experienced and would not entrust their family's care to just anyone. Similarly, anyone who flies on commercial passenger aircraft wants the pilots to be well trained, possessing a lot of experience in flying that type of airplane. Don't forget your car! Who wants just anyone to work on it? The average car now requires auto technicians be familiar with computers and other up-to-date technology to adequately diagnose and repair problems.
Jim can recognize and deal with the repeat criminals who commit 90 percent of all crimes. Jim will never agree to plea bargains that will not ensure public safety and victims' rights. Please help Jim by giving him your vote. Talk to your friends and neighbors about this District Court position. Encourage them to become interested and vote for Jim, too. Jim believes it is one of the most important items on the ballot. You have the opportunity to elect a judge who will really work for you!
Greg Tripp -- It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Spokane County District Court Judge for the past five-and-a-half years, helping to keep our families and community safe. Now I am seeking reelection to the post to which I was appointed in March 1997 and retained by election in 1998.
Our community's safety is my most important concern, and as a long-term community volunteer, I have seen the impact of court decisions and how they affect the community. It is crucial that judges be fair, open-minded and able to listen to both sides, as well as being courteous. I also believe that upon conviction, defendants should be held accountable and responsible for their actions. I have dedicated my career to these principles and seek reelection to continue my commitment to serve families in Spokane County.
My experience began as a deputy prosecutor for Clark County (Vancouver), Washington, where I prosecuted misdemeanors like DUI and felonies like rape, assault and many drug cases. I understood then, as I do now, that the public expects that I will continue to work to stem drug crimes and prevent drunk driving. Moreover, as the lead judge on domestic violence cases, I understand that those convicted must be held accountable.
Work as a prosecutor was followed by 22 years in general law practice in Spokane with small firms and as a solo practitioner. In my practice, I assisted people with the serious and real problems that arose in their lives from an injury or the loss of a loved one, the breakup of families, or an arrest.
Because of my ongoing involvement in the Spokane community, I understand the values of families in our county, and as a result, I carry those values with me every day as I make decisions affecting people's lives. I have been active in a wide variety of activities including serving on boards and committees in Spokane. These include the PTA at my children's schools, United Way, the Spokane Symphony and the Eastern Washington State Historical Society.
Recently, evaluation panels of the Spokane County Bar Association and the Washington Women Lawyers, Spokane County Chapter interviewed me extensively after reviewing a comprehensive questionnaire, a sample of written materials and interviewing 10 lawyers and judges regarding my qualifications. I was honored to receive the highest rating of both groups, that I am "Exceptionally Well Qualified" for my current position. I have also been fortunate to receive bipartisan support and the endorsements of many judges, lawyers, prosecutors, law enforcement, organized labor, school board members and others.
Among key endorsements are Sheriff Mark Sterk, Police Chief Roger Bragdon, Prosecutor Steve Tucker, the Spokane Regional Labor Council, the State Troopers Association and the Spokane County Deputy Sheriffs Association, as well as many sitting and retired judges.
I have been married for the past 27 years to JoAnn Delaney Tripp, a lifelong Spokane resident and a teacher at Shadle Park High School. We have two daughters.
For the reasons mentioned above, your vote will be greatly appreciated.