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Election 2012: Judicial Races: the rest

October 13th, 2012 (09:04 pm)

The Associate Justice races are in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and then that's it for contested judicial races in St. Paul.

Barry Anderson (Incumbent)
Dean Barkley

Dean Barkley is best known in local politics for spending 61 days as a Senator (he was appointed by Governor Ventura to fill the seat after Paul Wellstone died). He's sort of a crank -- as was (and is) Ventura, for that matter. Barkley enthusiastically joined the Reform Party after it was started by Ross Perot. At some point the MN Reform party changed its name to the Independence Party, but I usually call them the Jessecrats. If someone is running as a DFLer or a Republican or a Libertarian or a Green, you can make some assumptions about their beliefs and you will be mostly correct. Jessecrats -- well, years ago I remember reading their party platform and thinking that it seemed to be a laundry list of random grousing. I mean, it practically included as bullet point #328 that the GODDAMN KIDS NEED TO STAY OFF HAROLD'S LAWN, that's how weirdly specific it got in places.

I actually participate, after a fashion, in the writing of the DFL party platform. At caucuses, people introduce resolutions which are then debated and voted on at the caucus. These all get forwarded to the Senate District Convention, where the Resolutions Committee puts them all together into this enormous list and people vote on the ones they like while they're killing time between ballots and so on. Those lists are comprehensive and often overly specific. There are invariably reams upon reams of resolutions for things that are already in the DFL platform. Other resolutions -- well, I remember one that called for extended unemployment benefits for electricians. Another called for every laboring woman to be provided with a doula by her health insurer (I'm pro-doulas but does this really need to be in the DFL platform?)

Anyway, post-convention stuff gets sent to another committee and the fact is that they do a lot of weeding. The Jessecrat platform read like no one had bothered to weed. At all. Ever.

(I just looked it up and it is MUCH better written now, FYI.)

But that's still my overall impression of Dean Barkley. Kind of a crank.

Barry Anderson was appointed by Pawlenty but I don't think he's evil. This admittedly poorly-sourced rant says that while he's a Republican, he's not the crazy hate-filled sort of Republican but the centrist, openminded kind.

I will probably vote for Barry Anderson but I am open to a case being made for Dean Barkley. Actually, you would have to make a convincing case against the incumbent, in this case, because honestly, I don't have a very high opinion of Dean.

David R. Stras (incumbent)
Tim Tingelstad

Stras is a lesser evil here. Tingelstad is not even remotely subtle about his Dominionist foaming at the mouth. Vote for Stras.

In Minneapolis, there are two more contested races.

Steven E. Antolak
Elizabeth V. Cutter

Neither candidate is an incumbent (!) I voted for Liz Cutter in the primary after being totally unimpressed by the stupid boilerplate ad about his "AV Rating" on Antolak's website. I'm going to vote for Liz Cutter in the general election for the following reasons:

1. She's endorsed by a bunch of people I like. Antolak is endorsed by AFSCME so he's not endorsement-less, but I am less impressed by AFSCME endorsing you than BOTH Keith Ellison AND Arne Carlson endorsing you.

2. Did I mention the stupid, boilerplate ad on Antolak's site? I want judges to be smart.

3. Liz Cutter's done a bunch of work on domestic violence issues, including working with international groups to draft laws in other countries, which I think is cool.

That said, I think they're both reasonable choices. Antolak sounds compassionate and hardworking.

Mark Berris
Lois Conroy

ANOTHER judicial race with no incumbent! This wasn't in the primary because only two people filed.

Berris's website.
Conroy's website.

They both look like reasonable candidates. I like Conroy's endorsements much, much better -- partly because Berris's are mostly from the suburbs, and I don't know who these people are or what they stand for. (Except for Rich Stanek, whom I don't much like.) I'm going to vote for Conroy based on her endorsements. If anyone has specific information about these candidates, please feel free to share.


Posted by: eyesopenmn (eyesopenmn)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)

I've been following the judicial races. Because I think that judge candidates should run as non-politicians. Too much politics pollutes, and the courtroom is no place for politics.Too much at stake, like people's rights and liberties. I want to comment on the Berris/Conroy race, in large part because I am troubled by the Conroy campaign, a la her clear partisanship. I went to both candidates' web sites. Conroy's endorsements read like a who's who of the Mpls DFL. Which shouldn’t have come as a surprise given her (former) position with the Mpls DFL.

I can't tell from the Berris site whether he's a Dem, a Rep, or Indie. I like this about his candidacy. He's endorsed across the board as non-partisan. What I really like is that he’s endorsed by people who know him and are willing to write why they endorse him. This means something. I want to know why someone endorses a candidate. An endorsement from Martin Sabo for Conroy? Surely his day-to-day as a U.S. Congressman had no nexus to Conroy, a municipal prosecutor. But he endorses her. So what? Why did former mayor Don Fraser endorse Conroy? He was out of office effective January 1994, before Conroy even graduated from Univ of MN – Morris with her undergraduate degree. How does he know her? It doesn’t appear that he worked with her in his capacity as mayor. And Conroy grew up in SW Minnesota (not SW Minneapolis). So it begs the question why? Look, I voted for Don Fraser. I really liked Don Fraser as mayor. I thought Mpls did well on his watch. But his endorsement means absolutely nothing to me, other than it smells like partisan play for a non-partisan position.

I love the Turtle Bread Bakery. Best chocolate rolls in the cities. I love Fat Lorenzo’s. I challenge you to find a better piece of Pizza in Minnesota. If the Turtle Bakery or Fat Lorenzo’s endorsed Lois or Marc or any candidate, I would say, “So what. Tell me why the endorsement? Is it because the candidate shops/eats/spends $$$ in your shop? Or is it something more meaningful? Please tell me for your endorsement to have any meaning.”

Look at the background and experience of the candidates. I have. Her experience is flat: she is a prosecutor and always has been. A judge should have some depth and breadth beyond prosecution. After all, judges hear family and civil cases, too. According to his web site, Berris is a lawyer, a cop, and a firefighter. He has real-world experience resolving disputes as a conciliation court referee and hearing officer and as a lawyer representing people. He was elected to the school board of a school for kids w/autism, and he teaches at a college for students who want to be cops.

And I am aok with Berris' endorsements from suburban folks. I love Mpls. I have friends who live in the burbs. I even visit them on occasion, crossing into the land of chain restaurants, big-box stores, and roads w/pretty names like Scenic Heights Drive and Eagle Ridge. The majority of Hennepin residents live in the burbs. This judge position is county-wide..

She's backed by the Minneapolis Police Union. If she’s elected, will she recuse herself every time a Minneapolis cop appears before her? Or will she at least disclose to the defense that she has the endorsement of the police union? According to her campaign disclosure, the Minneapolis Police Union donated $$$ to her campaign. If you were arrested by the Minneapolis Police and appeared before Lois, would you want to know about this endorsement? Would you want to know that she received $$$ from them? Do you think you would be entitled to know?

I like that Stanek endorsed Berris, You might not like Stanek’s politics, and setting aside my dim view, for a top cop to endorse Berris over a prosecutor in the sheriff’s own jurisdiction is really telling. Berris served as a human rights commissioner for some suburb. If I am black or a woman or openly gay, I'd much rather appear before someone who was a human rights commissioner than someone whose legal depth is only a prosecutor.

When people have to go to court, chances are their freedom or rights or safety or property are on the line. I want a judge who will give me a fair shake. Not so convinced that Lois is that person. Much more convinced that Marc is that person. My eyes are open.

Posted by: IvoryChopsticks (ivorychopsticks)
Posted at: October 23rd, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)

I did find the following article which made me a little more wary of Barkley, from a New Jersey paper and it is a little worrisome. It links him to Tea Party idealism, though the link established seems a little tenuous. Still.

Posted by: eyesopenmn (eyesopenmn)
Posted at: October 24th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)


Posted by: Nancy Donoval (Nancy Donoval)
Posted at: November 6th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)

Out Front Minnesota has listed Barkley as acceptable and has not done so for the incumbent. It is also interesting to read Barkley's comments in the Vote411.org questionnaire. He counts Citizens United and the power of special interests to get constitutional amendments like the two we have this year on the ballot as one of the biggest problems facing the judicial system. I agree, he seems a bit of a crank, but the Out Front seal of acceptability means something to me as does his dislike of Citizens United.

The article you link to about Barry Anderson actually seems to be about Dan Griffiths -- and makes him sound better than I would expect from your description of his website. FYI.

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