Martwick to vie for 6-year term with attorneys Callahan, Heym

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Judge Jean Marie Martwick, seeking retention to her seat on the Columbia County Circuit Court.A judicial election in Columbia County is shaping up to be a competitive race, with a third candidate announcing her entry to the race last Thursday, Feb. 6.

Judge Jean Marie Martwick, appointed to a seat on the Columbia County Circuit Court by Gov. John Kitzhaber last year, is seeking a vote of retention. But she faces challenges from Jason Heym of Scappoose, who works as a divorce attorney at Goldberg Jones in Portland, and Cathleen Callahan of Goble, an attorney-at-law based in St. Helens who declared her candidacy last week.

All three candidates sought Kitzhaber’s appointment last year after Judge Steven B. Reed announced his retirement from the bench.

Asked Wednesday whether she felt receiving the appointment signified the governor’s confidence in her, Martwick said “yes.”

“I feel it just really fits me,” Martwick said of the judgeship. “The job develops my character in a very positive way. I know I’m new and inexperienced, but I look forward to continuing to grow and develop and be the best judge I can be.”

Callahan said she thinks well of Martwick, but she suggested she would be the more electable candidate in a race against Heym.

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Cathleen Callahan, candidate for Columbia County Circuit Court.“I believe that I’m better qualified than Jason,” said Callahan Tuesday. “I’ve lived out in this community for 20 years. I’m active in many community organizations, and I think that I’m a better fit than he is.”

But Heym said he has “done plenty of work out here.”

“I’m a Columbia County guy,” Heym said Thursday. “I just happen to be an excellent lawyer, and so I work at one of the best law firms in the state.”

Heym cited his education — he has a master of business administration from Willamette University, in addition to his law degree — and his work ethic as elements that set him apart from Callahan and Martwick.

“I’m young and energetic,” said Heym. “I guarantee I work harder than they do. Not trying to disparage them, but the type of practice I have is different than the type of practice they’ve engaged in. My clients expect much more. The caliber of law is much higher, frankly. When people out in Columbia County have a very complicated case, they don’t run down to the local strip mall to hire their lawyer. They come to me.”

In order to be elected or retained, candidates for judge must secure a majority of the vote either in the open primary election, held in May, or in the November general election. Unless a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters in a contested primary will advance to the general election.

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - Jason Heym, candidate for Columbia County Circuit Court.Contested judicial elections are uncommon in Columbia County. Judge Jenefer Stenzel Grant secured retention narrowly against David B. Herr in 2008, after she was appointed to the Columbia County Circuit Court, but such competitive races are not the norm. Judge Ted E. Grove was retained that year running unopposed.

Of having a contested race, Martwick said, “I hope it means the voters will look very carefully at each person for what they are able to bring to the community.”

Martwick added, “This is a job about community service, service to the people, and I’m hoping they’ll look very carefully at it and vote accordingly.”

Both Grove and Grant are also up for election this year. That means all three judgeships on the Columbia County Circuit Court will be on the primary ballot May 20.

The candidate filing deadline for judicial races this year is March 11.

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