Community Post

Municipal Judges: Andrew’s pick for position 1 (updated X2)

Your ballot for the November election will arrive in the next day or two. Way down on the page will be the races for judges, which I know little about, and the races for Seattle Municipal Court Judges, which I typically know even less about, so I rarely vote for either!

This time I will be voting for Ed McKenna, who is running for Seattle Municipal Court Judge Position No. 1.


When he was the Assistant City Attorney assigned to the East Precinct (about 5 years ago), I often encountered him at neighborhood events related to the issues along Madison Street and at Crime Prevention Coalition meetings. I was struck by his quiet, polite, caring and competent way of handling the sensitive issues that we were dealing with. These impressions were confirmed when I had a long chat with him at a campaign event last month.

I know nothing of his opponent (other than having read of her very low ranking by people who rank judges), nor of the assorted snipings going on in the media (see links below). 

However, having worked with Ed, I would be very happy to have him as a Seattle City Judge.  For the first (and maybe last) time in my life I have displayed a yard sign!

Links, assorted, for you to learn more about the candidates:

From that last article:

McKenna has been rated “very good” by the Municipal League of King County. Charles was rated “adequate.” McKenna has been rated “exceptionally well qualified” by the King County Bar Association. The same group rated Charles as “qualified.”

Link added (10/27/10): Bar Association Says Presiding Judge Broke Rules During Campaign

0 thoughts on “Municipal Judges: Andrew’s pick for position 1 (updated X2)

  1. I had similar experiences with Ed when he was Asst. City Attorney assigned to the East Precinct/North Precinct: quietly and knowledgeably helpful, concerned about the people of our neighborhood. I will be voting for Ed McKenna for Judge and encourage others to do the same.

  2. Unseating (possibly two) experienced, criminal court judges of color in exchange for white candidates because you kind of like the new candidates, but really don’t know much about the judges, seems naive and unfair. I’ve worked with Judge Charles. She is not a warm and fuzzy person, and doesn’t tolerate incompetence in the courtroom. That makes her unpopular with overburdened public defenders who want to rush through plea deals despite deal conditions their clients just cannot comply with (sure, my client with 20 years as a street alcoholic will abstain from alcohol as a condition of his plea). By the way, defense attorneys dislike ALL the muni court judges because they think they’re too hard on crime. Please people, do some homework before you just go and unseat experienced judges because you find their opponent kind of nice.

  3. I hoped you wouldn’t bring up color.

    His mother is Native American. From his website: ” Ed is a recognized descendant of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes of the Flathead reservation. “

    ” Please people, do some homework”: does working with Ed and seeing his interactions with community members count as homework?

  4. I have to say that Ed McKenna has a vast understanding of appropriate treatment of misdemeanor offenses that are seen in Seattle Municipal Court. “Del’s” client with the 20 years as a street alcoholic needs problem solving solutions, not hard line traditional punitive responses. Check it out-the 20-year street alcoholic gets 30 days at $122 a day- gets out, faces the same problems as before, commits the same or a similar crime, usually relating to his alcoholism, and comes back through the system once every 50 days. Does “tough on crime” address this chronic system user? No! What he needs is treatment!
    I also know and have worked with Ed, he is a competent litigator who completely understands when to be hard on crime (Domestic Violence defendants, for example) and when to solve the problem. Keep in mind- do we need or want extreme high jail costs? or something that works?
    This is NOT an issue of skin color!
    Who you need to vote for is the right person for the job.

  5. Please note that each McKenna supporter wrote about appreciating his COMPETENCE, not that he was kind of nice.

  6. Dino Rossi’s mother is Native American too, but I’m still not voting for him either.

    Edsonya is tough as nails, fair and thorough. Her low ranking, among the bar association trial lawyers and NO OTHER group, means little to those who understand how judges work: her WORK stands on its own. She’s earned both respect from other judges as well as from citizens – I plan to keep her in her great job, and keep Ed in his great job he’s doing as prosecutor.

  7. You misunderstood the post. The point was that defense attorneys dislike her when she questions their “yep, yep, yep” attitude to questions regardnig their clients’ abilities to comply with treatment. For instance, if the client has failed 5 times to show up for the screening required to get state funding for treatment, or has been kicked out of treatment repeatedly, what are the client’s plans for that not happening this time? She is huge on alternatives to incarceration, especially treatment, having spearheaded the complete rewriting (and opening wide) of the release criteria. So much so that prosecutors find her too lenient. In fact, leniency – allowing too many 2nd and 3rd and 10th chances for folks who frankly do not want treatment, is my only beef with her. I’m all for treatment. However, treatment is a participatory process, and people can and do frequently get kicked out of state mandated treatment for failure to comply. Funds are VERY scarce to have taxpayer paid treatment, so a judge should (and many do) question whether or not a person on his 5th go round should be stating, through his attorney, that he’ll comply with treatment just to get out of jail, when actually he has no intention of doing so. That’s why we have 1811 Eastlake: Inebriate housing for those who do not want the treatment you and I believe they need.

    My point was this: Rather than saying “I’m voting for person A because I think they’ll do a good job,” why not ALSO consider that you are un-seating a judge who – by the poster’s own admission – the poster knows nothing about. Why would you not inform yourself regarding both candidates, rather than un-seat what might be the better candidate?

    I am on the fence, frankly. In reading McKennna’s published material, he says he is for alternatives to incarceration and saving community court, yet he was an integral part of the budget cutting decisions that just axed community court.

  8. Awesome guy, and awesome judge. Just ask Seattle cops! I worked with this judge when I was a young parent and an older student, accompanied my kids’ scout troops on visits to his court, witnessed his youth outreach, and later my 18 year old son volunteered in the courts and worked with Judge Hurtado. Rather than reading my anecdotal praise, read what police and other other judges have to say about him.

    and on Facebook

    And an article in the Stranger talking about DUI defense attorneys supporting Mr. McKenna

    And whomever you choose, vote!

  9. Might I suggest that your own post on CD News about Judge Hurtato would be more appropriate (and would get more coverage) than adding a comment to a post about a different judicial race?

    I see you are a CD News poster already!

  10. Actually, I thought it was relevant as the same issues are at stake, and the Stranger’s article has info also about Mr. McKenna’s supporters (although Mr. McKenna’s response seems to have been majorly edited – since I can’t imagine that was ALL he had to say).

  11. Del said.”In reading McKennna’s published material, he says he is for alternatives to incarceration and saving community court, yet he was an integral part of the budget cutting decisions that just axed community court” WHAT?! Here is where no homework was done. (sorry)

    A. Ed was not part of any budget decisions whatsoever-That happens with department heads and the finance department, then approved or rejected by council=not regular staff.

    B. Community Court is not axed!!!!

    Where’d you get your information, anyway?

  12. Sorry! I thought that a separate post with Judge Hurtado’s name in it would give you more impact.

  13. Andrew, I’m trying to understand why you would post this “endorsement” of McKenna. Your opening paragraph makes my stomach churn. You state you know little about the race for judges, even less about the races for Seattle Municipal Court Judges, and that you rarely vote for either. But it doesn’t end there. If as you say, “I know nothing of his opponent” then why do you feel qualified to make a public endorsement?

    And you have the nerve to suggest someone else will have more impact by making a separate post. I suggest you would have more impact if you educated yourself as a voter. Especially if you feel the need to make public endorsements. I can’t see how you could endorse McKenna in good conscious knowing nothing about his opponent.

    I have never really viewed you as an arrogant person before this. Persnickety perhaps, but not arrogant. But my opinion has changed dramatically after your post. I am left with a sneaking suspicion that you have an ulterior motive in this post.

  14. I think these attacks on Andrew are quite unfair. Andrew took a bold step by stating his opinion in this race. He went further than simply stating his opinion, he provided facts and links to help educate the readers of his post.

    To the recent poster “jennifer” I would say that you seem angry and unjustifiably critical of Andrew. In his post, Andrew was both being humble and stating the case for most voters when he said “races for judges, which I know little about, and the races for Seattle Municipal Court Judges, which I typically know even less about”. I believe many people would agree with him that it is difficult to choose between two people who are running for judge, because they are non-partisan and it is difficult to ascertain their values in terms of liberal or conservative. Many people don’t even pay attention to what is often termed as a “down-ballot race” since the candidates are at the bottom of the ballot, or even on the back, which people fail to notice.

    But even more to the point, even though Andrew self-deprecatingly stated that he knew little, he backed up his endorsement with his personal knowledge of his candidate of choice, and then proceeded to provide links about the race. Now if you had followed the links, I think it would be clear that Andrew does indeed know information about BOTH candidates, as described in their voter statements, as portrayed on each of their websites, and as critically analyzed in publications like the Stranger and the Seattle Times.

    So please, do not attack Andrew for stating an opinion that is supported by personal knowledge, facts, and a description of the candidates from their own websites.

    I know politics is an emotional business because we all wish to see an outcome in accordance with our own desires, but please do not unfairly take it out on a third party who simply wishes to engage in the democratic process.

    Lastly, I would applaud Andrew for maintaining a sense of tactfulness in his post, which did not seek to condemn or criticize the opponent, but simply state why he supports his candidate.

  15. Right on, Brad. Many of us DO know the opponent, which is partly why we are asking you to vote for McKenna. The other reason is he’s the best candidate for the position.

  16. I have good and bad views of Judge Charles. As a judge, she seems extremely pro-defendant, giving people every possible chance to comply with probation (again, and again), is big on alternatives to incarceration, and some may say far too lenient on release (however, jail housing is expensive and the powers that be thus pressure the courts to release, release, release). McKenna likes EHM (electronic home monitoring) as an alternative to incarceration; however muni court deals with a massive # of homeless, unemployed and underemployed people. EHM requires a dedicated home land line phone. The great majority of people I interact with in muni court do not have this. They are either too transient to be able to stay in one place, too poor to be able to afford a land line, or in most cases – both.
    Muni court deals with not just minor offenses, as some newspapers have implied, but all of Seattle’s non-felony domestic violence. Punching your girlfriend, dragging her down the street by her hair, kicking her down the stairs, strangling her in front of the kids – all of these are misdemeanors. Muni court handles a huge number of nasty street assaults, lots of mental illness related crimes and crack related crimes (stranger chasing children with a knife down the street comes to mind as a recent example). Attacks on police officers, repeated DUI’s, flashers, promoting prostitution – muni court deals with all of these and more. These positions are important positions to fill and should be researched carefully. I’m excited to see that my neighbors are so passionate and involved this election!
    I think it’s fair of Andrew’s critics to say that his argument is flawed. To say that, because you like one candidate, he must be the best, while admitting that you know nothing about his opponent, is – as one poster said – unfair to his opponent who might be the better choice among 2 good choices. How would you know if you don’t inform yourself about both sides? So that criticism is fair, if worded quite harshly above.
    My suggestion: Call the candidates! You can phone a judge, believe it or not. I did it the last time around and asked a boatload of questions, and I did this as a citizen calling from home.
    I for one am going to try to get more educated about McKenna. There are a lot of things I like about Judge Charles, and some things that I really don’t like. I’m excited to find out what McKenna has to offer that is different from what Judge Charles is doing. Thus far his website hasn’t shed much light for me on just how he’s different, so I plan to contact the candidate.
    Another poster said that finance dept and department heads decide where the cuts happen in muni court. That just isn’t true. The judges are very involved. Judge Charles (because she is the current, presiding Judge) emailed staff throughout the last budget cut process, asked staff to suggest efficiencies, even anonymously if they wanted to, and had numerous meetings with staff, department heads, the city attorneys, etc. to determine where the cuts would land. All players – city attorney included – were involved and the judges were quite certainly involved. The cuts were not some remote decision by the office of finance. The court was given a number – “cut your budget by this percent” – and then the inclusive process I just described occurred.
    Sorry to drone on, but one last suggestion: If you’re really interested, visit muni court. There is court inside the jail every Saturday at 9am. It’s an eye-opener to go sit in the gallery and listen to the in-custody hearings in this criminal court. You will see people like another poster mentioned, in this situation: Life-long street alcoholic who, to avoid jail time, entered in to a probationary agreement on an assault charge. The agreement included alcohol treatment. 2 years later he’s back in jail on his 10th warrant booking on the same case, for again failing to comply with treatment or show up at probation. Yet another treatment center has kicked him out for being drunk and violent. He’s a vet. In court, sober, he’s a sympathetic character. He served his country and he’s suffering with terrible demons, but he just cannot or won’t comply with the conditions of his probation. His victim, a stranger who was traumatized and hospitalized by the assault, wants him to just hurry up and do his jail time. Defense is asking for more treatment. The prosecutor doesn’t object, because it’s costly to continue to jail him. As a judge, do you go forward with more revolving door for this guy, who costs the city $200 every time he is booked, plus $100+ per day while he is in jail, and continues to rack up new offenses throughout the year? What would you do? There are hundreds of cases like this each week in Muni court at the Justice Center and the jail court. What would you want your candidate to do? Take a few hours, go check out the complicated nature of this particular court, then ask your candidates the tough questions. And vote!