Three candidates are on the primary ballot for Skagit County Superior Court Judge Position 3. Superior Court judges serve four-year terms. The Superior Court handles the following cases: felony criminal, civil, divorces and child custody, paternity and adoptions, and probates, as well as Juvenile Court and mental commitment proceedings.
Name: Heather D. Shand Perkins
Residence: Mount Vernon
Occupation: Court commissioner in Skagit County Superior Court
Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Washington; Juris Doctorate, Gonzaga University School of Law; LL.M, Master in Taxation, University of Washington.
Elected offices held: None
Community involvement: Skagit Rotary Club, scholarship chair; YMCA children’s basketball coach; Vala Youngquist Children’s Hospital Guild, past president; Children’s Museum of Skagit County, board member; Skagit Symphony, board member; Conway Youth Soccer Association, vice president; Volunteer Lawyer Program Steering Committee board member; Skagit County Law Library Board, past president.
Campaign website: www.heatherforjudge.net
Why are you running for office?: I am running for Skagit County Superior Court judge to give back to my community and because experience and commitment will enable me to serve with distinction as a Superior Court judge. Litigants deserve to see their judge as someone they can relate to. Someone who genuinely takes an interest in them as an individual and works with them to create a pathway of hope. The integrity of our entire court, and the trust our community places in our justice system, is extremely important to me as a judicial officer. I have the experience, knowledge, compassion and commitment that have prepared me well for the next challenge of joining the Skagit County Superior Court bench.
What are the five biggest issues facing the candidate who is elected to this position?: Access to justice for all citizens; a judicial system that serves with compassion and ensures all parties feel heard; expanded, safe and up-to-date facilities; advancement of case schedules to reduce delays; judges who are relatable to the community.
How will you address them?: Our judicial system needs to advance to be more open and accessible to working people, single parents, people of color, immigrants, people who are disabled, and those who are not native English speakers. The formality of the court is intimidating and the legal terms confusing to those who do not have attorneys. Litigants deserve to see the judge as someone who they can relate to. An effective judge is someone who illustrates a desire to relate and connect with the litigants by sharing small pieces of ourselves with them not only in our ruling but in our interaction, whether it be on social media, in the courtroom or in person.
As court commissioner, I see my role as a leader in our legal community. I work in partnership with local government, law enforcement, attorneys and community organizations to ensure the legal system is advancing with the issues facing our citizens to address the issues of courthouse hours, availability of legal services for non-represented parties, virtual appearances for the working population, as well as working with county officials to develop a plan for the courthouse and the Law & Justice campus in Mount Vernon to ensure all who work or enter the courthouse are safe.
Skagit County Superior Court needs to look to the National Center for State Courts and its assessment of other courts across the state to address the backlog and delays in litigation by initiating case scheduling orders and utilize judicial assistants. As a judge, I plan to work to continue and expand these services to ensure all citizens have access.
What sets you apart from your opponents?: The most important characteristic for a judge should be diversity of experience. My experience serving as a judicial officer and experience with community service attest to the importance of this critical characteristic. An effective judge is someone who is well prepared, has extensive knowledge of the law, and has the capacity and willingness to conduct each proceeding in a fair and objective manner. As the current court commissioner in Skagit County Superior Court, I have extensive legal experience and life-long commitment to Skagit County. On the bench, I am known as a fair and objective commissioner who is respected for her knowledge of the law and commitment to justice.
As a small business owner and single parent, I know the importance of practical solutions and sticking to a budget. I understand the acute financial struggle facing our community, businesses and working parents as we deal with the realities caused by the pandemic.
Appointed to the bench by the current Superior Court judges, I have earned the respect of litigants who come before me. A pioneer on restarting court operations with remote proceedings, I care deeply about access to justice, litigation costs, public health and safety.
How are you campaigning and engaging with voters during the pandemic?: I am personally reaching out to voters by social media, telephone and meeting with voters by virtual platforms.
How can voters learn more about you?: Voters can visit my website at www.heatherforjudge.net, my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heathershandperkinsforjudge, my Instagram Page at @heatherforjudge, and Twitter page #heatherforjudge.