The last several weeks we’ve asked readers through our blog posts and we’ve also spoken to people around town trying to get opinions and insights into the candidates and the intrigue surrounding the City Judge election. We’ve read the the candidates’ flyers and the limited election press.
Our own opinion, for what it’s worth:
Mr. Klein has worked for the City for 20 years, but we don’t see that experience as having much relevance to the position he seeks, acting as a Judge on matters that he rarely deals with as City corporation counsel. At the same time, the City Judge position generally does not require the legal firepower of a court handling serious criminal or commercial matters. In fact, Mr. Klein’s campaign flyers focus on his desire to have night court hours to deal with traffic and parking violations. What the position requires is reasonable intelligence, a good base of knowledge of how the law works, a willingness to learn, fairness and good judgment. Does Klein have these characteristics? Probably. Some have strong opinions about him (not just Mr. Gusler or Ms. Banschick), but he’s survived many different administrations. Is that a keen sense for diplomacy or that he knows where the bodies are buried? Don’t know. But we don’t see him as “owed” the position for having served the City for 20 years.
Mr. Hommel has worked for the City, too, but has broader experience than Klein, particularly in different court settings. From a standpoint of experience similar to what he would do as Judge, he appears to have that, where Klein really lacks it. As we noted above, though, at least we don’t see the position as anything like what a state or federal court would handle, so we don’t see that as the be-all and end-all. What we’ve heard about Hommel and what seems apparent is he has relevant experience, has a base knowledge of the law and from what we’ve heard could be be expected to to be willing to learn, be fair and exercise good judgment.
Here are things of concern:
Klein has very serious accusations made against him concerning the litigation with the Seapointe Tower developer.
The LBDC did not back Klein, even though he has worked more for democrat than other administrations, and one of its staunch supporters — Ms. Banschick — attacked him repeatedly in the press, alleging serious ethical violations in the Seapointe Tower developer litigation.
The City fired Hommel a year or so ago when he announced he would run for Judge Tepper’s position. His boss then was Klein, the guy now running for the same job.
This stuff does not leave a good taste. It just doesn’t. Klein may be the good guy in this stuff, but we just don’t know and that’s unfortunate for the voters (and maybe him).
In the end, we are not for or against Klein or Hommel, but Klein has more intrigue about him. Nor do we think he’s “owed” the judgeship or has the prereqs to be the judge *because* he was City counsel. On balance, Hommel no doubt has more applicable experience. But it’s not the U.S. Supreme Court either.
Vote your conscience. We will.