Carlson challenges Landis in race for judge’s bench

By John L. Braese
The Enterprise

VALE – Local attorney David Carlson has stepped up to challenge Erin Landis for the 9th District Circuit Court Judge Position 1 in the Nov. 8 election.

Landis was appointed to the post at the end of June, but faces election to continue the job in January. Gov. Kate Brown made the appointment to fill the remaining six month of the term of Judge Patricia Sullivan, who retired.

“I think I have a lot to offer the county,” Carlson last week. “I think experience matters, as does integrity. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Carlson has 26 years of experience as an attorney, both as a prosecutor and in private practice in criminal and civil matters.

Asked about his reason for the run, Carlson said noted the post “includes watching out for children and families.”

“We need to expect more from parents,” he said. “I have been to court and seen youngsters there without their parents. Children need to be protected. We also need to expect more from people in the criminal justice system.”

Carlson said the duties of the bench are to follow the existing laws.

“Judges have no business making law, but rather to apply the laws already written,” said Carlson.

Carlson takes exception to the way many Malheur County’s circuit judges have been appointed to the bench, which sends them into the election cycle as incumbents.

That’s been the case with mid-term retirements of Sullivan, Judge Burdette Pratt and Judge Frank Yraguen.

Carlson and Ontario attorney Bruno Jagelski were finalists along with Landis for the post opened up by Sullivan’s retirement.

“It is wrong for the governor to be appointing every one of our judges,” Carlson said. “I will serve my full term and let voters decide who will replace me when the time comes.”

Meanwhile, Landis is in the first contested race of his career.

Landis, who was a Malheur County deputy district attorney, ran unopposed for district attorney in the May primary, winning a term that begins in January. With his appointment as judge, he is now seeking election to that job.

“I am running based on my track record in public service,” Landis said. “I have been working in this county since my graduation from law school 14 years ago come October. In 2005, I was appointed Chief Deputy and have handled all kinds of cases including numerous Measure 11 crimes.

“I have the experience necessary in representing the public and what they want.”

Landis also discussed his experience in managing an office, experience he says is necessary as judge.

He also cites personal reasons for seeking to serve on the bench: his children.

“I have two young children, and I want this county to be a safe place for my wife and I to raise them in,” said Landis. “Being a judge provides me a chance to make the biggest impact in people’s lives and I want to make a positive change.”

As the election nears, Landis plans to campaign door-to-door and attend functions that provide him a chance for people to get to know him.

Landis has picked up endorsements from the three retired judges living in the county: Pratt, Sullivan and Yraguen.

If Landis wins the court position in November, that would create a vacancy at district attorney. The governor would appoint to fill that post.