District Court Judge incumbent Rick Porter squared off Monday with opponents Tim Davis and Pamela Lindquist for the first time since ballots were mailed for the Aug. 1 primary.
The Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the candidates at its weekly luncheon at the Red Lion Inn.
The exchange also was the first since the results of a Clallam County Bar Association poll showed particpating bar members favor Davis, a state assistant attorney general.
The poll was sent to 71 dues-paying members and 50 were returned with rankings for the judge candidates, said William Payne, president of the bar association.
The three candidates were ranked first to third by those taking the poll and Davis came out on top with 35 votes for first. Lindquist, a private practice lawyer, received the most for second, with 24 votes, and Porter received the most votes for third, with 27 votes.
Audience members asked questions Monday about the pay to appear program, which Porter touts as a successful way to keep offenders in line and current on their fines. In the program, offenders' fines are broken down into payments. If the offender misses a payment, he or she must appear before the judge with an explanation. If the payment is missed and no excuse is made, an arrest warrant is issued and the offender could go to jail.
At the luncheon Porter shared a story about a man who got a parakeet that belonged to a sailor and swore excessively. Porter said the man tried everything he could to rehabilitate the parakeet and get rid of the foul language. Finally, one day the man threw the parakeet into the freezer, Porter said. The bird stood at attention, apologized for its behavior and asked what the chicken did, Porter said.
He likened the scenario to dealing with offenders and said they should not be "coddled."
"It's about getting people's attention," he said.
Davis said the program is ineffective, expensive and doesn't make sense.
He added that spending $75 to house an offender overnight in jail for failing to make a $50 payment isn't sensible.
"You need to ask how much you're willing to spend to collect," she said.
On the subject of campaign challenges all three pointed to time.
Lindquist said she has worn out a pair of shoes going door-to-door and wishes she had more time as she continues her outreach.
"I just can't get to every house I want to," she said."
Porter said when he ran eight years ago he visited 18,000 houses and this year has visited more than 4,000.
Should one of the candidates receive more than 50 percent of the primary vote, he or she will win the election and be seated without having to go through with the general election in November.
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