“State court judges make decisions that impact voters’ everyday lives,” said Johanna Schiavoni, president of San Diego County Bar Association. “So don't skip that race when you're filling out your ballot. You are just as qualified as any other San Diegan get to vote on these races.”
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During the March primaries, San Diegans voted on four different judicial races; three of them were decided and the fourth race, Seat No. 30, will be decided in November.
Campaigns for judges tend to be low-key affairs, with little information for the voter available, but who wields the gavel makes a difference.
“There is a significant drop off on the ballots -- voters don't vote in judicial races,” Schiavoni said.
Schiavoni said that, when it comes to deciding our next county judge, many people often omit their vote, which is why she wants voters to get informed. One resource is the County Bar Association's judicial voting guide.
“The candidates in inthis race were rated exceptionally well-qualified and well-qualified, and when voters evaluate these candidates they can review the ballot statements,” Schiavoni said.
There are five evaluations that can be assigned to a candidate: exceptionally qualified, well qualified, qualified, lacking qualification, and unable to evaluate. Nader was rated “well qualfied,” and Starita was rated "exceptionally qualified" by the county bar association.
According to the San Diego County Bar Association, judicial candidates are evaluated on 15 different factors, including fairness and objectivity; integrity and honesty; decisiveness; judgment and common sense; judicial temperament; knowledge of the law; professional reputation; trial experience; intellect and ability; tolerance and lack of bias; caseload management; courtesy and patience; writing and research skills; and compassion and understanding.
Schiavoni stressed the importance of not skipping over a vote that could impact citizens.
“They could be handling a family law matter where they're deciding custody or spousal support, they could be deciding how to dispose of an estate when someone passes away, or it could be a criminal matter where someone's life is at stake,” Schiavoni said.