Updated: Dan Cross wins Justice Court seat
Opponent Kevin Kelley had won ruling keeping incumbent Jim Shartel off ballot
Kevin Kelley managed to knock the incumbent out of the race for Washington County Justice of the Peace in the courts, but he couldn't do the same against Dan Cross at the polls.
Cross held a commanding lead of nearly 17,000 votes by Wednesday morning, getting the support of 61 percent of those who chose a candidate in this race compared to Kelley's 38 percent. The large majority of ballots have been counted.
"I'm extremely honored that the voters of Washington County have entrusted me with this position," Cross said Wednesday, reiterating his pledge to fairness from the bench. "I'm really committed to living up to what I promised to do."
The Justice Court, located in Beaverton, hears a variety of lower-level cases including traffic infractions and also rules on small-claims civil cases. The Justice of the Peace also traditionally performs weddings.
The Justice Court's district covers most of Washington County, except for inside Hillsboro's city limits and a small area of the eastern edge of the county that is incorporated as part of Portland. Those jurisdictions handle cases in their own courts, while several other cities handle a portion of that caseload in their municipal courts.
Cross, 51, is a longtime defense attorney who lives in Beaverton and practices in Hillsboro. He received endorsements from, among others, Gov. Kate Brown.
Cross also vastly outspent Kelley to buy a mailer and campaign signs. He reported $8,330 in cash donations (including $1,200 of his own money) as well as a $10,000 loan to his own campaign.
Kelley, 47, is a Lake Oswego resident who has a law office in Beaverton, where he primarily does defense work after previously prosecuting cases for the Washington County District Attorney's Office.
Kelley didn't report campaign finance activity to the Secretary of State because he said he didn't expect to meet the monetary threshhold required to file that information.
Kelley took the Washington County Elections Division to court in March and won a court ruling that incumbent Jim Shartel should not be allowed to appear on the ballot due to a longtime provision in the Oregon Constitution that required judges to retire during the year they turn 75.
Shartel, who will be 75 this fall, opted not to appeal the ruling and plans to retire at the end of 2016 after a quarter century on the bench.
Coincidentally, Oregon voters this fall will vote on whether to repeal the mandatory retirement age for judges, but it comes too late for Shartel.
Cross was not involved in the ballot challenge.
Cross will take over the bench in 2017. The salary for this position currently is set at $106,660.
Cross said Wednesday that he plans to learn as much as possible from Shartel about running the Justice Court during the incumbent's final months in office.
"He has been very kind to express his willingness to spend some time" teaching Cross about the behind-the-scenes workings of the court, including budgeting and business aspects, Cross said.