Jefferson County bar group rates judicial candidates
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Wednesday, the bar association released its poll concerning the upcoming judicial elections, rating the candidates who are running for the Superior Court judgeship that will become vacant after the retirement of Judge Craddock D. Verser.
The poll answers were from 37 attorneys of the 41 who belong to the Jefferson County Bar Association and practice in the county.
Participants rated each candidates in five categories: legal ability, judicial temperament, integrity, relevant legal experience and suitability.
Participants rated each candidate in each area as well qualified, worth five points as a rating factor; qualified, worth three points; moderately qualified; worth one point; or not qualified, worth 0, said Tom Brotherton, president of the county bar association.
To arrive at the final tallies, Brotherton said that, in each area, the number of votes were multiplied by the rating factor. Those numbers were added and then divided by number of people who voted in each category.
The average of the five scores were then averaged for each candidate’s total score.
Harper, 58, placed first with an average total score of 3.07, followed by Port Townsend attorney Michael Haas, 50, with an average of 2.42 and Quilcene attorney Peggy Ann Bierbaum, 54, with an average of 2.1.
The three candidates will go before the voters in the Aug. 7 primary.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 6 election if one candidate does not get more than 50 percent of the vote.
Ballots for the all-mail election will be mailed to voters on Wednesday.
Harper drew the greatest single score in the poll: 3.4 for integrity.
The lowest score for a single quality was given to Bierbaum: 1.7 for suitability.
Poll participants also were allowed to make individual comments about the candidates. The comments were anonymous.
“I appreciated the positive comments, but the negative comments were to be expected.” said Harper, who lives in Port Townsend.
“I was also pleased to see that very few of those responding said I was not qualified.”
Harper serves as a part-time Superior Court commissioner and judge pro tem, and a part-time District Court judge pro tem.
Said Hass: “I didn’t see anything that surprised me.
“Keith has been practicing around here for decades and as a lot of local support,” he added.
“There were a lot of people in my camp but Keith had a bigger camp.”
Haas said he didn’t know “how much this all means.
“These results will have very little correlation with how people actually vote.”
Bierbaum said she was pleased with the positive comments.
“There were some negative comments but those were probably from people who have lost against me in court,” she said.
Brotherton said the association does not endorse in elections.
He added that the opinions expressed in the comments are those only of the respondents.
Of nine comments, six of Harper’s were negative.
Haas received seven comments; six were positive.
Bierbaum’s 10 comments were evenly divided between positive and negative.
Attorneys were given poll on July 2 and had until Tuesday of this week to complete it.
Two candidate forums will take place next week.
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will present a forum at its regular meeting which begins at noon Monday at the Elks Club, 555 Otto St.
Bierbaum said she will not attend that forum.
All three candidates are scheduled to appear at the League of Women Voters forum on at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Port Ludlow Beach Club, 121 Marina View Drive.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.
Last modified: July 12. 2012 5:42PM