REGIONAL — Tri-Valley voters will select a new judge for the Alameda County Superior Court on Nov. 3, choosing from two attorneys with extensive careers in private practice.
Mark Fickes, a civil rights attorney with the San Francisco-based firm, Cannata, O’Toole, Fickes, & Olson, squares off against Elena Condes, a criminal defense attorney based in Berkeley. The winner will replace Judge Carol Brosnahan, who has served more than 40 years on the bench.
Brosnahan has endorsed Condes.
Although the position is nonpartisan, each candidate for Seat 2 on the court is supported by numerous Democratic organizations, clubs and labor organizations, according to information provided to the League of Women Voters of California. Fickes’ Tri-Valley endorsements include Sen. Steve Glazer; Pleasanton Unified School District trustees Jamie Yee, Mark Miller and Valerie Arkin; Dublin City Councilmember Shawn Kumagai; and Dublin Vice Mayor Arun Goel.
Condes’ endorsements include U.S Rep. Eric Swalwell; state Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan; Livermore Mayor John Marchand; Livermore City Councilmember Trish Munro; Tim Sbranti, a Chabot-Las Positas Community College District trustee.
Dublin Mayor David Haubert is listed as endorsing both candidates. Each candidate boasts a lengthy list of endorsements from judges and fellow attorneys. Both attorneys will bring diversity to the court.
Condes said she is the first Latinx to run for judge in Alameda County. On her website, she calls herself a self-made attorney who worked my way through university and law school after I was outed as a lesbian.
“A second-generation Latina of Mexican descent, I have made Alameda County my home in part because of its diverse and vibrant community, which I have been honored to represent over my many years of practice,” she wrote.
Fickes, who previously worked as a defense attorney and prosecutor, is also gay and actively involved in his synagogue and LGBT causes. He wrote on his website he would become the second openly gay man on the court.
“I was taught to work hard, take nothing for granted, and stand up for those who have no voice, even if their causes were unpopular,” Fickes wrote on his website. “My view of justice is also informed by my experience as a gay man. When our twins were born with the help of a surrogate mother, there was no legal way for my partner and I to both adopt the same child. Years later, our children are teenagers attending public high school in Oakland. We are both their legal fathers, and our marriage is recognized throughout the United States.”
Asked on the nonpartisan League of Women Voters website’ Voters Edge, which offers a comparison of the candidates, Condes listed her top priorities as increasing access to the justice system; expanding and supporting alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs for nonviolent offenders; and mentoring young people to increase diversity in the legal field.
“I began my law practice based on the principles that every person deserves respect and justice, and it is those principles, combined with a passion for fairness and equality, that will guide me as an Alameda County Superior Judge,” Condes wrote on her campaign website.
Fickes listed his priorities as lowering financial barriers that limit low to middle-income people from access to the justice system; looking at the probate courts and conservatorships of elderly people and people with special needs; and working to expand drug and mental health courts.
“I want to serve as a judge in order to be a force for positive change by entering into each interaction with an open mind and with the single purpose of adjudicating cases in a fair, expeditious, and even-handed manner,” he wrote on his campaign website.
Fickes earned his law degree at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1995. Condes earned hers at Golden Gate University School of Law in 1992.
Both are members of the Alameda County Bar Association, which does not offer recommendations.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/Indy_JudgeCandidates.