The following is a transcript of the three-minute statements read by challenger Cassandra Lopez-Shaw and incumbent Paul Thompson, running for Snohomish County Superior Court Position 14, during a candidate Meet and Greet event Sept. 8 at Edmonds Center for the Arts.
You can also see video of the candidates speaking here. The event was sponsored by the Edmonds Neighborhood Action Coalition, Indivisible Edmonds and the Sierra Club.
Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Pos. 14
Hello. I’m Cassandra and I’m running for Superior Court Judge Position 14.
That’s my husband of 28 years standing over there. He’s a high school science teacher. Just to tell you a little bit about us, we started out in Los Angeles. We had our daughter Alexis when we were really young. Our neighborhood burned down in the wake of the Rodney King riots, and we decided we did not want to raise our next child in that environment.
We’d seen a movie about the Pacific Northwest; it looked like a wonderful place, so we came here. We had no family here, no job, no great plan, but a year and a half later we were both enrolled at University of Washington. We then had our son Michael. We worked many jobs — sometimes three at a time — to make ends meet. I got into law school and my husband joined the Marine Corps while still a student.
It was a busy time for us. Then one week before my husband was supposed to start his last week of school at the University of Washington, he was sent to the Iraq war. As we say in our family, we survived one tour of Iraq and two tours of premier soccer!
After he returned I started working as a lawyer. I worked for a big-time civil firm in Seattle, two different public defender agencies, and a small private firm where I pretty much did everything. Then I started my own practice.
While working as a public defender, we put both of our kids into private school at Holy Names Academy and O’Dea, which was not easy on a public defender’s salary. After they graduated, we sent both of our children off to the United States Naval Academy, where they both went on to graduate. My daughter is now 27 years old, and she is a naval flight officer who lands planes on aircraft carriers. My son is a tank commander in the Marine Corps.
The reason I tell you that story is because it was not easy to do; it was the four of us grinding it out with grit and determination — but that led me to my career where I learned to represent people at every hour of the day, anytime I was needed. I took my practice all over the state and have I have done felony trials in 13 different counties in Washington state. This can be challenging, because in places where I’m not already known by the judges like Grant and Grays Harbor Counties, it’s tough to walk in cold and run a defense. But it challenged my legal skills and it made me a better lawyer.
I believe that my broad experience in civil, family and criminal law gives me the background to best serve you. I decided to run because I want to help the people of Snohomish County. I want to represent people at the court and work to ensure that they are treated the way I want and they deserve. It’s really about you and your voice. I want you to know that I’ll meet with your family, I’ll meet your neighbors, and I’ll answer any questions.
All of those women back there wearing the shirts say Cassandra Lopez have been with me on the road — the road that brought me here. I’m so proud them.
Thank you, and I ask for your support in November.
My name is Paul Thompson, and I am the current sitting judge for Snohomish County Superior Court Position 14.
I want to talk a little bit about myself. I grew up in Washington, and when I was younger I really had no plan to go to college; my mother essentially talked me into it.
The reason I had no plan to go to college is that when I was younger I found myself in a number of special classes designed to address learning disabilities. Back in the late ‘70s we were called pull-out kids — you know, you pulled a kid out of the normal class, you take them to a different classroom, and address whatever the issue is. In subsequent years all those programs were cut, and I found that I never quite fit into the regular path in the schools I attended.
Due to my mother’s urging, I went to a community college and then went on to graduate from Eastern Washington University in 1995. After graduation I became heavily involved in bicycle road racing, and for a while considered making it my primary focus. But as we all learned in the era of Lance Armstrong, that game has a dark side. It eventually became clear to me that I needed to move on, so after much thought I made the huge commitment to apply to law school.
I attended Gonzaga University Law School and graduated in 2004. I began my professional career in public service, starting out as a public defender in Chelan County from 2004 to 2007. In the middle of 2007 I transferred over to the Snohomish County Public Defenders Association, where as a sole practitioner I represented individual clients who I helped navigate their way through the complexities of the legal and judicial system.
From my practice as a public defender I know very well the difficulties faced by indigent individuals. If you don’t have a driver’s license it’s difficult to get to the courthouse, if you have mental health issues it’s difficult to engage, and obviously if you have drug or alcohol issues these will create additional complications. I mention all of that because I think my background representing indigent individuals sets me apart from many of my colleagues. I know how difficult it is to get into the courthouse, and how difficult it is to have your case heard.
I am proud to have a wide range of support including all 14 of my colleagues on the Snohomish County Superior Court. Labor has endorsed me, plus a wide for a variety of individuals and groups.
I thank everyone for their time, thank you for listening and thank you all the candidates for being here. I enjoyed listening to everyone. Thank you again.