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Karabeika wins race to bench

West Linn Municipal Court Interim Judge Heather Karabeika wins Tuesday's
by: , Karabeika

West Linn Municipal Court Interim Judge Heather Karabeika easily won Tuesday's vote count, giving her the permanent position she has held since former West Linn Judge Kathie Steele was appointed to the circuit court.

Two judge hopefuls, Attorney Chris Burris and stay-at-home mom Beth Wicklund challenged Karabeika.

The final vote count had Karabeika with 1,882 votes (54 percent), Burris with 1094 votes (32 percent) and Wicklund with 469 votes (14 percent). Only 27 percent of Clackamas County voters returned ballots Tuesday by the 8 p.m. deadline.

'I'm feeling great about the election,' she said in a phone interview Tuesday night. 'I'm excited. I have worked hard for this. I really want the job.'

Karabeika says she brings to the judge's bench a varied experience that matches well with the wide variety of cases that a municipal court judge faces.

Karabeika wants the municipal court to be a mirror of the community. She wants to crack down on MIPs, but also she wants people to know that she gives everyone 'a fair shake.'

But she intends to be strict for people who show up twice in her court and with people who don't show up at all. For the latter, she is issuing default judgments - which means the people have to pay the fine and don't have an opportunity to argue their case.

She also wants the bail and fine amounts updated (lowered) to be consistent with others in Oregon.

A meeting is scheduled next week with city leaders to determine which changes are feasible now and timelines for the other adjustments.

'I'm hoping that we can make modifications to court processes,' she said, 'to make the system more functional, practical and consistent.'

In the meantime, Karabeika holds court every Thursday for those on the other side of the law.