We admittedly do not have a wide breadth of experience with any of the three candidates seeking election to Columbia County Circuit Court Judge, Position 1.

But, based on our own questions and feedback from the community, the race boils down to two: Judge Jean Martwick, who Gov. John Kitzhaber appointed to the position to fill a vacancy when Judge Steve Reed stepped down in September, and local attorney Cathleen Callahan.

Martwick has embraced her transition from local attorney, one with experience in civil law and as a defense attorney in criminal cases, to the role of one of Columbia County’s three circuit court judges. She cites Kitzhaber’s appointment as a show of faith in her relevant experience for the position. Arguably, Martwick has the most experience in criminal law appearing in circuit court, versus Callahan’s extensive casework as a city prosecutor for the city of Clatskanie’s municipal court, which handles misdemeanor cases.

Callahan has extensive community ties, however, and resonates the strongest among all the candidates as one who has a vested interest in Columbia County’s welfare beyond the scope of her professional career. She is active in both legal aid and community development groups, including the South Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Columbia County Rotary. She has also been a board member of Columbia County Legal Aid since 2011 and a member fof the Local Family Law Advisory Committee since 2008, for which she has provided 250 hours of pro bono work. She additionally cites a background of court-appointed criminal defense work and a wide range of civil law experience.

Both Martwick and Callahan are engaged in the discussion regarding Columbia County’s perilous jail situation, have the requisite experience for the job, and have conscientious consideration for the future of Columbia County’s justice system. In Martwick, we believe there is greater experience concerning criminal case management, including felonies. Due to her appointment, Martwick also has nearly eight months experience in the role for which she is running, and we are unaware of any noteworthy deficiencies in her job performance so far.

Conversely, Callahan is unmatched in her demonstrated commitment to the community. She, too, has the chops, though we believe there would be a steeper learning curve for her to get up to speed in the position.

Both, we believe, would ultimately serve Columbia County’s justice system well if elected.

We leave it up to the voters to pick a winner.

Contract Publishing

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