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Martwick narrowly wins state bar poll

Callahan a close second in survey of local lawyers


by: SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Judge Jean Marie MartwickJudge Jean Marie Martwick, facing a competitive primary as she defends the seat on the Columbia County Circuit Court to which she was appointed last fall, secured a vote of support from local members of the Oregon State Bar late last month — by a one-vote margin over her closest rival.

Martwick, a Scappoose resident who practiced law in St. Helens before being appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber to the judgeship vacated by Steven Reed last October, won an 18-vote plurality in the judicial preference poll.

The bar association conducts preference polls in contested judicial elections to allow local members of the legal community to weigh in before the vote. The polls closed April 21.

“I appreciate the support from the local bar,” said Martwick in an emailed statement Tuesday, April 29. “They are a great group of attorneys who serve the community well.”

Callahan, who lives in Goble and has a legal practice in St. Helens, won 17 votes out of 39 cast in the poll.

by: SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Cathleen Callahan“This was much closer than anyone expected,” Callahan wrote in an email Wednesday. “We almost won because I have been in this community for such a long time, and I am [a] trusted member of our legal community. The odds were always against us, and I’m proud that my Columbia County focused campaign came so close.”

Scappoose resident Jason Heym, the only one of the three candidates for the first position on the circuit court to work outside of Columbia County — he is a divorce attorney at a Portland firm — scooped up just four votes from state bar members polled.

Heym downplayed the poll’s significance, noting he outperformed Martwick in a similar judicial preference poll last summer — winning seven votes to eight for Callahan, the winner, and two for Martwick, who placed last among five potential appointees — before Kitzhaber named her to the bench.

“Given the lack of impact from the first bar poll and my limited time to campaign I directed my attention toward the community at large,” Heym wrote in an email Monday. “I did so by listening to their concerns and frustrations with the current state of our court system and explained my plans to address their concerns with concrete steps to alleviate the case backlog currently crippling our court instead of focusing upon the approximately 35 lawyers in the preference poll.”

Heym has trailed in major endorsements compared to Callahan and Martwick, both of whom have amassed public support from multiple elected officials in Columbia County. Most of the endorsements Heym claims on his campaign website are from former clients and fellow attorneys, many of whom live or practice in Portland — although he does boast the backing of Reed, the retired judge.

Position 3 on the circuit court is also contested, although incumbent Judge Jenefer S. Grant is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot in that race. St. Helens attorney Agnes Petersen is running as a write-in candidate, despite a decision by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown’s office and a ruling by a state judge that she is not constitutionally eligible for the race because she is older than 75.

No judicial preference poll was conducted in the race between Grant and Petersen.

All three seats on the Columbia County Circuit Court are up for election this year. Circuit court judges serve six-year terms of office in Oregon.