Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Political Notebook: New judges prepare to take their oaths


Judge-elect Victoria Kolakowski
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Two out judges who won hard fought election battles to secure their seats on local courts will take their oaths of office next week.

Across the bay in Alameda County, Victoria Kolakowski will become the nation's first elected transgender trial court judge when she takes her oath of office in a private ceremony Monday, January 3. She will also be the Alameda County Superior Court's only out member.

Her public induction into the court's office #9 will take place the following day, Tuesday, January 4, and her first full day on the job will be Wednesday, January 5.

"Day by day it becomes more real," said Kolakowski, 49, who has been sitting in on her soon-to-be colleagues' courtrooms and has been given a loaner robe until hers arrives.

In San Francisco, former deputy public defender Linda Colfax will also be sworn in Monday, January 3 to Seat 6 on the San Francisco County Superior Court. She has been assigned to the court's Department 525 at the Civic Center Courthouse, 400 McAllister Street, and will oversee civil trials.

Colfax was on vacation with her family this week and could not be reached for comment.

She defeated three opponents in the June primary to win her court seat outright. Her public investiture ceremony and reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. January 14 in the Milton Marks Auditorium inside the state building, 455 Golden Gate Avenue.

The out lesbian will be the 13th openly gay member of the court following the gubernatorial appointment this fall of Angela Bradstreet to fill a judicial vacancy.

Due to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointing this month two deputy district attorneys from the Alameda County District Attorney's office to fill court vacancies on the Alameda court, Kolakowski had her court assignment changed last week. The appointments upended the initial decision by the court's presiding judge of where to assign Kolakowski.

Rather than handle juvenile dependency cases, she will now hear criminal cases at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

"It was a surprise to all of us; that wasn't the initial expectation," said Kolakowski, who was meeting with the judge she was to have replaced when they learned about the gubernatorial appointments. "The truth is it is a humbling thing when you realize you are being entrusted with making decisions involving putting people in jail. It is a very serious thing. I knew that going in to the election, but I think the reality of it will probably hit me fully the first time I am actually sitting there and have to make a decision."

Kolakowski, the wife of Bay Area Reporter news editor Cynthia Laird, had been working as an administrative law judge for the state's Public Utilities Commission. She surprised her two opponents in the June primary by coming in first place and defeated the second place finisher in the November runoff election.

To help her mark the historic occasion of her swearing-in, Kolakowski has invited the following speakers to address the audience at her public ceremony: National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter, an out transgender man; Chief Administrative Law Judge for the California PUC Karen V. Clopton , the first African American to hold the post; Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors ; and state Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro).

The ceremony, which is open to the public, will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 4 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center at 388 9th Street, Suite 290 (Pacific Renaissance Plaza) in downtown Oakland. A reception will immediately follow.

Quan plans two-day inauguration

Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan will celebrate her inauguration over two days as she becomes the East Bay city's first female and Asian American mayor.

This Sunday, January 2, Quan is ho

Judge-elect Linda Colfax. Photo: Rick Gerharter
sting an Inaugural Eve bash at the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland Hills. The observatory and museum lies within her City Council district, and the party is doubling as her annual District 4 holiday party.

The science center will be open to the public that day from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Quan has invited local youth and other music acts to perform and she is cooking food for the event herself.

There is a $10 suggested donation per person. The center is located at 10000 Skyline Boulevard.

At 8:30 a.m. the following morning, Monday, January 3, Quan's family and friends will march alongside her as they walk from Chinatown, where her great-grandfather took refuge following the 1906 earthquake that destroyed San Francisco, to the Fox Theatre for her swearing-in ceremony. The procession will take off from the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at 9th Street between Franklin and Webster.

Doors to the theater open to the public at 10 a.m. that day, and seating will be available on a first come basis. The ceremony is expected to last from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

That evening, from 5 to 9 p.m. Quan will open her new offices inside City Hall to the public. Once again musical acts will perform and there will be talks on Oakland's history and a reception line for those wishing to greet the new mayor.

Oakland City Hall is located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

SF supes panel to vote on gay appointees

Openly gay Supervisor David Campos has scheduled an emergency meeting of the board's Rules Committee at 10 a.m. Monday, January 3 to vote on 10 nominations Mayor Gavin Newsom has made to various city boards and commissions so that the current board can finalize the picks at its last meeting Tuesday, January 4.

Not only is a new board expected to be sworn in at noon Saturday, January 8, Newsom will have resigned by that date in order to become the state's new lieutenant governor. [Just when he will actually step down remains in flux due to his concerns about whom the current board may appoint as his replacement.]

Among the mayor's final appointees of his term are former lesbian Supervisor Leslie Katz and gay Castro business leader Herb Cohn.

A certified public accountant, Cohn is up for a seat on the San Francisco Relocation Appeals Board. The oldest of its kind in the nation, the five-person board meets once a year unless individuals and families whose residence or business is displaced by public action file an appeal.

Katz is up for a seat on the city's Port Commission. Should she be confirmed, she will be the oversight body's only LGBT member and its first in recent memory.

To shore up support for her nomination to the high-profile panel, Katz has been dialing supervisors to line up the votes she needs.

"I don't take anything for granted," said Katz, a member of the Democratic County Central Committee.

The Rules Committee, which also includes Supervisors Michela Alioto-Pier and Eric Mar , meets in Room 263 at City Hall.

Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, is on a holiday hiatus. It will return Monday, January 10.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @

Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 861-5019 or e-mail mailto:.

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