As early election results slowly trickled in late Tuesday, the atmosphere at judge candidate Tom Anderson’s celebration was relaxed and jubilant while the gathering of his opponent, Ray Shine, was noticeably subdued.
Anderson walked around the lobby of the Holbrooke Hotel in Grass Valley, clutching a cardboard mask of smiling lips fastened to a wooden stick. But he didn’t need it – he flashed his own smile as early returns showed him beating Shine by 12 percentage points.
By 11:37 p.m., Anderson was leading, 56.53 percent, to Shine’s 43.24 percent.
At Anderson’s party, a band played bluegrass music for a dancing crowd. Nevada County judges Julie McManus and Carl F. Bryan II sipped beer and joked at the bar. Several children – including Anderson’s – were hurrying up and down the stairs, making their way around hundreds of supporters.
Anderson was cautiously optimistic.
“It feels really good,” Anderson said, acknowledging the presence of so many supporters, including four Nevada County Superior Court judges, at his gathering.
“This campaign has been a really positive experience. I’ve met a lot of really nice people, and because this race was nonpartisan, there was a lot of discussion among people. A lot of agreement.”
Because he was sure he would not know how all of the precincts voted by the end of the evening, Anderson named his party the “Phew” party – as in the end a grueling campaign – instead of a victory party.
But Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling was more enthusiastic.
“Tom has demonstrated a commitment to justice,” Dowling said, holding a beer at Anderson’s party. “That commitment is unsurpassed by any other candidate.”
At Friar Tuck’s Restaurant in Nevada City, Shine’s approximately 50 supporters filled the back room and mingled in low light as jazz gently wafted from speakers.
Shine said he wouldn’t dare to guess the results.
“There’s no way of knowing,” Shine said. “We won’t know (who won) tonight.”
The two candidates were finalists in a six-person runoff in June, one of the closest races in the primary election.
Both were endorsed by local residents, business people and high-profile current and former public officials.
Supports alternative courts
Anderson has 23 years of experience as a courtroom attorney and was a judge pro tem for the San Francisco Municipal Court and Contra Costa County Municipal Court, as well as an administrative law judge pro tem for the Office of Administrative Hearings.
In 2000, Anderson was recruited to re-invigorate the Nevada County Public Defender’s office, which had been experiencing administrative problems.
He lives in Nevada City with his wife, Eileen, and two daughters.
Anderson said he knows what he’s getting into because he works with everyone at the courthouse – judges, clerks, attorneys – on a daily basis, and he considers himself part of a team of people working together to administer justice.
“I have an understanding of how the system works – internally and externally,” he said during his campaign.
Throughout his campaign, Anderson has been supportive of alternative court programs such as Proposition 36. That’s more effective than creating a revolving door of untreated repeat offenders, he said.
He also said it is important for the courts to determine the difference between a criminal who uses drugs and an addict who commits crimes to feed his addiction.
While Anderson is supportive of alternative courts, only a small percentage of the caseload should be handled in those arenas, he said.
As a judge, Anderson said he would apply the law as it is written, whether he agrees with it or not.
To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the union.com or call 477-4236.
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