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Sorting out the 24 judicial candidates

The most unusual local election this fall is one that typically would get little attention.

Listed on the Nov. 2 election ballot simply as "Judge 10th District Court 3," a judicial seat based in Washington County has drawn lots of attention for the sheer number of candidates - there are 24 - and what triggered the odd contest.

During the candidate filing period ending in early June, Judge Thomas Armstrong filed for re-election. Then Armstrong's law clerk, Dawn Hennessey, also filed to run for the seat.

But shortly before the filing deadline, Armstrong withdrew his candidacy and announced he would retire, and Hennessey also backed out of the race. That left no candidates at the deadline.

State law called for a seven-day petition filing period, during which candidates could petition to run for the seat after they collected at least 500 signatures from eligible voters in the eight-county 10th Judicial District.

Twenty-five candidates submitted petitions and all but one were verified, leaving 24 candidates to fight for a rare judicial vacancy to be filled by election.

District court judicial seats typically are filled through appointment by the governor, though judges must stand for re-election.

"It was an opportunity that can't be passed up," candidate Jennifer Santoro Bovitz of Cottage Grove said of the chance to get on the bench by election.

The 10th District includes Washington, Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne and Wright counties.

There are some candidates whose names will appear on the ballot even though they are not actively campaigning.

That includes former Woodbury-area state Sen. Brian LeClair, who stopped actively campaigning for the judicial seat after he sought but did not receive the Republican Party endorsement. That endorsement went to Wm. Christopher Penwell.

Buffeted by a recent court ruling, several of the candidates sought the GOP endorsement. In their questionnaire responses, the candidates split over whether candidates for nonpartisan judicial seats should seek or accept political party endorsements.

The Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin submitted an election questionnaire to all of the candidates. Eighteen candidates responded by deadline.

Click on the attached links to view candidates' responses to the Bulletin questionnaire.

-Questionnaires compiled by Bulletin staff.