Political Notebook: LGBT lawyers weigh in on judicial races
by Matthew S. Bajko
A group for LGBT lawyers in the Bay Area has split its endorsement between the out candidates in two San Francisco judicial races on next week's primary ballot. The organization also endorsed a transgender judicial candidate in the East Bay.
In her three-person race for an open seat on the Alameda County Superior Court, Victoria Kolakowski earned the backing of the San Francisco-based Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the nation's oldest and largest LGBT bar association. According to statewide LGBT lobbying group Equality California, Kolakowski would be the country's first transgender judge should she be elected.
She is running against Alameda County Deputy District Attorney John Creighton and Louis Goodman, a criminal defense attorney and former Alameda County prosecutor. If no one wins more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday, June 8, then the top two vote-getters will advance to a November runoff election.
An administrative law judge for the state Public Utilities Commission, Kolakowski is married to Bay Area Reporter news editor Cynthia Laird. EQCA has had volunteers phoning its East Bay members to urge them to vote for Kolakowski and the group sent out this week a targeted mailer on her behalf.
BALIF's judicial plebiscite for the San Francisco contests ended with dual endorsements in the two races with out candidates. For the open Seat 6 on the San Francisco Superior Court, the gay legal group endorsed both out lesbian Linda Colfax, a deputy public defender, and Robert Retana, a gay man who is an attorney in the office of the general counsel for the state court system.
Receiving the group's backing for their bids to oust Judge Richard Ulmer from his Seat 15 on the bench were gay men Michael Nava, an attorney for California State Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno , and local lawyer Daniel Dean . As with the Alameda race, if none of the San Francisco judicial candidates win the primary outright with more than 50 percent of the vote, then the top two vote-getters in each race will face off in the fall.
BALIF's members also recently elected David Tsai as the new co-chair to replace Dean, who stepped down but will remain on the group's board. Liz Noteware will continue to serve as BALIF's other co-chair.
Other Bay Area races to watch
Around the Bay Area are several races with out candidates on the primary ballot to watch out for Tuesday. One is already a foregone conclusion: Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager , currently president of the board, is running unopposed for re-election next week. It will be Yeager's second term, and he is the only out supervisor on the county governmental body.
Over in Alameda County openly gay Hayward City Council member Kevin Dowling is seeking to become the first out person to serve on the county's Board of Supervisors. He is considered an underdog in the race due to the war chest his opponent Nadia Lockyer has been able to amass with the help of her well-connected husband, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer .
Late last month Lockyer was found to be inaccurately describing herself as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County on her website and in campaign literature. It remains to be seen if the revelations will be enough to derail her supervisorial bid.
Dowling would be the highest-ranking out politician in Alameda County were he to win the race. Also running for a county post is Berkeley resident Joaquin Rivera, who is considered the front-runner in his race for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Education. Should Rivera win, he would be the only (and believed to be the first) out person on the body.
Up in Sonoma County out lesbian Jill Ravitch is waging an intense fight to unseat incumbent District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua. It is the second time that Ravitch, a former prosecutor in Sonoma County who now works in the Mendocino County District Attorney's office, has tried to oust her former boss from office.
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is backing Ravitch in the race; she reported last month amassing $232,000 in contributions for her campaign. Passalacqua has banked more than $381,000 for his re-election effort this year, but the Santa Rosa Press Democrat noted that he has lent more of his own money to his campaign.
Should Ravitch win, she would be the country's second out lesbian D.A. after Bonnie Dumanis in San Diego.
Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings around 10 a.m. for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion.
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Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.