A candidate for Spokane County District Court judge, Tim Trageser, is questioning incumbent Judge Richard Leland’s placement of his campaign signs.
Leland's campaign has attached many of his signs to Republican candidates, including Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, using zip ties. Trageser argues that it gives voters the impression that Leland is endorsing candidates for partisan offices, a violation of the state’s judicial rules.
"His association with Republican candidates and a current sheriff does not give the appearance of impartiality," Trageser said in an email.
Leland said he's endorsing no candidates for partisan office, and that Trageser's concern is a stretch. Attaching his signs to other candidate signs is a way to save money on rebar, he said. He would have asked Democrats for permission to use theirs, but Democrats’ signs weren’t as widely distributed when he began his campaign, Leland said.
Leland is running an unusually active campaign for judge. He said he has knocked on 3,000 doors.
Having served as U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers' district director just before he was appointed judge, Leland has strong ties to many Republicans, but he said he's not focused on partisan politics.
“He’s trying to make this a Republican or Democrat thing,” Leland said. “I’m from the Republican side, but I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I’m a judge at this point.”
Leland has won the endorsements of all the Spokane County District Court and Spokane Municipal Court judges, most of the Spokane County Superior Court judges and is able to list has the rare ability of listing the backing of McMorris Rodgers and the Spokane Regional Labor Council.
Trageser’s endorsements include several Democratic groups, Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno, for whom he once worked, and prosecuting attorney candidate Breean Beggs.