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Supreme Court: some insights

We are not endorsing anyone; the state bar Web site is helpful

The Mail Tribune is not endorsing judicial candidates in the May 16 primary, but will use this space today to provide some insights on a judicial race. The information came from the Oregon State Bar Web site and campaign material.

In the race for Position 6 on the Oregon Supreme Court, voters will choose among three candidates with very distinct backgrounds: W. Eugene Hallman has worked in private practice in Pendleton for 30 years; Virginia Linder rose through the ranks of the state Justice Department before being appointed, then twice elected, to the Oregon Court of Appeals; and Jack Roberts has served in elected political offices, but has not practiced law since the late 1980s.

Hallman's candidacy includes an appeal to voters to put someone on the court from outside the Willamette Valley, from where all the current judges hail. He already broke through a bit of that barrier in 2000, when he was recognized by his Oregon peers with the Owen Panner Professionalism Award. The award is given to one Oregon lawyer each year and has not been awarded to any other lawyer from outside the Willamette Valley.

Hallman has had a public face in addition to his private practice: He served for 11 years on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, 10 of those years as its chairman. He also was a member of a tax reform committee put together by Gov. John Kitzhaber. He worked as a circuit court judge pro tem and has argued hundreds of cases, including 130 appeals before the Supreme Court and appeals courts.

Linder would bring diversity of her own, as the current court is entirely male. She is now a judge with the Oregon Court of Appeals and arrived there in 1997 after working in the state Department of Justice for 18 years. From 1986 to 1997, she was the department's solicitor general, the first woman to hold the job in Oregon. That position put her in charge of the department's Appellate Division, in which she supervised the work of about 30 attorneys.

Linder has published a lengthy list of legal articles and has been active in legal education as an adjunct professor and through a number of organizations.

Roberts is perhaps best known as the former head of the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries 1995-2003. He served as a Lane County commissioner from 1989 to 1994 and currently is executive director of a nonprofit economic development agency in Eugene.

Roberts, who according to his resume last practiced law in 1989, said he has no experience as a litigator or as an arbitrator or mediator. But he said the Supreme Court needs representation from a breadth of backgrounds of people who understand how the law has an impact on society.

Commissioners:not a tough callIn a year in which there are few candidates to choose from in local races, the two positions on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners appear to be exceptions. But closer examination suggests there's less there than meets the eye.

Two incumbents &

8212; Republican Jack Walker and Democrat Dave Gilmour &

8212; are up for re-election, although Gilmour has no challenger for the Democratic nomination.

Walker, who has been a commissioner for 12 years, has one opponent, Morris "Bub" Saltekoff, who says he wants to unseat Walker because Walker did not help him on a property deed issue. Not good enough: Walker should easily win his party's nomination.

Two candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Walker in November. One, Tom Winmill, is an unknown, but a better bet for the nomination. He is a marketing and sales manager for COBI.

We say Winmill is the better bet because his opponent is Carl Worden, who describes himself as a "liaison officer" for the Southern Oregon Militia. Worden is intelligent, well-spoken and a Democrat in name only. He says he is anti-abortion, pro-gun and a property rights advocate. Worden says he converted to the Democratic Party to save the party from itself, but party members say they want nothing to do with him or his politics.

In the other contested race for the Board of Commissioners, Craig Prewitt and Jerry Hanson are seeking the Republican nomination to run against Gilmour in the general election. Prewitt is a 14-year member of the Phoenix-Talent School Board, vice president of the Oregon School Boards Association and a member of the Jackson County Public Safety Coordinating Council. Hanson is ... well, we don't know who or what he is since he hasn't returned our phone calls. Given that, our vote goes to Prewitt in a walk-over.