Four lawyers are vying for a coveted seat on the Klamath County Circuit Court.
Alycia Edgeworth Kersey has held the seat since August when she was appointed to fill the position created by Roxanne Osborne's retirement.
The incumbent incumbent only a few months ago, Kersey is now running to keep the black judge's robe after making Governor Kate Brown to fill the position. To do this, she must defeat challengers Nathan Ratliff, Bonnie Lam and Joshua Guest.
Lam was also interviewed by Brown earlier this year for the open space. She has been a lawyer in the county for 24 years, primarily concerned with family and youth dependency law, including child welfare and custody issues.
Although she said she is not as familiar as some of her opponents with the criminal law that will come before the district court, she is willing to learn and hopes that her experience working with a wide variety of families will make her well suited for the job .
"With my practice for almost 24 years and the fact that I'm only in this community, working with a multitude of clients and how long my practice lasts, I think I've got enough experience," she said. "And of course I'm always ready to learn new areas of law."
Lam runs for a spot in the square to set an example for the children she works with and her own children who are now adults.
"I've got to a point where it says, 'Well, maybe I should try something new," she said. "Maybe I should be an example to them and other children of having goals and working towards something else, something To try new things. "
Ratliff has been chairman of the Klamath Falls Municipal Court since 2016 and has also had his own private law practice since 2003. He wants to join the Circuit Court equipped with what he has learned in both roles.
"All these different facets of my experience, both on the planning side, the litigation side and the district court experience side, put me in a good position to cope with the burden and work of a good district court. The judge would do it", he said.
Gast said it was his dream to be a "professional peacemaker" when he entered law school to become a mediator. He has worked as a public defender in the district court and believes that training to be a mediator would well lead to fair judgments.
"Judges (who) are tenacious of principle, but gentle on people can help get bad news across quickly and clearly, and explain it in a way that people will agree with a bad outcome," he said.
Through his training as a mediator, he tries "to find the least restrictive method to solve the problem and to serve the security interests of the community". As a judge, he said he would seek solutions that satisfy victims and the state while doing his best so that criminals can remain productive and tax-paying members of society.
Kersey's motto is "Protecting the Klamath Way of Life". She said it would be interesting to find out what this means for the people in the community and how she can best serve them as a judge.
She has been a lawyer for 10 years and most recently worked as a defense attorney. Previously, she was a domestic violence prosecutor for the Klamath District Attorney's Office and previously worked as a clerk for all five judges in the courthouse.
She called her first two months in the new job "fulfilling".
"I think what a judge in Klamath County needs is to understand the litigants, understand the burden of the litigants … and I try my best to be a very compassionate and active listener," she said. "Everyone who stands in front of me is unhappy and needs to be heard."
Despite being appointed by Governor Brown, Kersey said it was her mission in her campaign to prove that she was Klamath's choice too. She recognized her relationships with community stakeholders, such as leadership in prison, leadership in KBBH and other judges, as what she has overdone in Salem and what she will do with local voters.
"I think the reason I'm the judge in Klamath County is because of all of these relationships and all of the community partners I know and have really good relationships with," she said. "We all shop in the same store, we all buy milk in the same place."
The last time Klamath County had a competitive race on Circuit Court was the primary in May 2004, which Judge Marci Adkisson won. Each candidate in the race agreed that it was good for a community to have a competitive election with numerous qualified candidates to fuel the conversation and think about what the community wants from a judge.