Court candidates spending big

Candidates in the only contested Superior Court judge race in the county have pulled out the stops, topping even influential county supervisors in fundraising in an effort to win what is a lifelong seat for many judges.

Deputy District Attorney Susan Etezadi and formerprosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer Lisa Maguire are vying to replace retiring Judge John Schwartz, who was elected unopposed in 1968. Both have raised more than $100,000. In his time on the bench he can recall only three contested races for judgeships, said Schwartz, who has endorsed Maguire in the June 6 primary.

So far this year, Etezadi has spent $128,000, more than double Maguire, including taking to cable television airwaves. “Our strategy has been that we spend all the money we raise on the campaign to get the word out,” Etezadi said. Since January, she has raised $127,000, all of it coming in during the latest fundraising filing period, March 18 to May 20, records show.

“Once you get in it’s usually a lifetime position, unless you do something stupid or illegal,” longtime Peninsula political consultant Ed McGovern said. “If you could raise $120,000 for a lifetime job, who wouldn’t?”

While $120,000 is a lot of money for a judge’s race, it’s not surprising considering a single countywide mailer costs a candidate about $50,000, McGovern said.

By comparison, Supervisor Rich Gordon has raised about $36,000 in his contested race. Supervisor Jerry Hill raised $120,000, most of it before he learned he would run unopposed, he said.

Etezadi has also benefited from a number of personal loans, including $30,000 from fellow Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Hill, $5,000 from her campaign consultant Richard Silver and $25,000 from herself.

Maguire has raised $109,000 since Jan. 1, $96,000 of that from March to May. She has spent just $60,000, primarily on campaign mailers, records show.

“I’m spending my money carefully,” Maguire said, indicating another mailer was in the works, along with newspaper adds. She, too, has loaned to her own campaign, donating about $26,000.

What sets her apart from Maguire is experience in the homicide, sexual assault, career criminal, insurance fraud and environmental units in the DA’s Office, Etezadi said.

Maguire has said that, if elected, she would like to be involved in efforts to reach out to young kids to keep them out of gangs, and encourage more public involvement in the community by other judges.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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