Online Extra: Political Notes: Gay, lesbian judicial appointees fail to draw opponents

  • by Matthew S. Bajko
  • Monday March 19, 2012
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Three lesbians and a gay male lawyer appointed to local superior court seats by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger failed to draw opponents this year and will not face contested elections.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Angela Bradstreet is unopposed for her Seat 2 on the local bench and will automatically be elected. She will next be up for retention to her seat in 2018.

On the Contra Costa County Superior Court, Judges Christopher Bowen and Rebecca Hardie will also be automatically elected to full six-year terms in their Office 2 and Office 5 spots, respectively, since no one filed to seek those seats.

In the South Bay, no one is running against Julie Emede, a lesbian judge on the Santa Clara County Superior Court. The first lesbian president of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, Emede was appointed to the bench in 2009.

There are four contested judicial races in the Bay Area this year, only one of which, in Marin, involves a sitting judge. In Alameda County lesbian attorney Tara Flanagan is seeking an open superior court seat. [She will be profiled in the March 22 Political Notebook in the Bay Area Reporter.]

It is relatively rare for a sitting judge to be opposed at the ballot. None of the 13 judges in San Francisco on the June ballot are being challenged.

In 2010 one of Schwarzenegger's local straight judicial nominees found himself in a heated campaign to hold on to his seat after two gay attorneys opposed him. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer ultimately was able to beat back his opponents and retain his seat, but it raised questions if other appointees would face similar electoral challenges.

Of particular interest were if the two out nominees in Contra Costa would be opposed as their court covers some of the Bay Area's more conservative cities. At the time of her appointment, Hardie told the Bay Area Reporter she doubted her sexual orientation would generate any backlash.

"I have a little more faith in the public. My background and qualifications speak for themselves," Hardie said at the time.

According to data on judicial demographics recently released by the state court system, Bowen and Hardie are the only self-identified LGBT jurists in Contra Costa County.

Bowen, who was named to a court vacancy in October 2010, formerly worked as an attorney with the Contra Costa County Public Defender's office. Hardie was nominated to the court in February of that year and had served as Pacific Gas and Electric Company's director and counsel since 2007.

Santa Clara has two out lesbian jurists. In 2010 Judge Jacqueline Arroyo, a former deputy district attorney whom Schwarzenegger appointed to the bench in 2008, was unopposed for a full term.

Bradstreet is one of six known LGBT jurists on the San Francisco court. A former president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, Bradstreet had worked as Schwarzenegger's labor commissioner before being named to a vacancy on the bench in September 2010.

Last summer she taped a video for the It Gets Better project in which she spoke publicly for the first time about the negative reaction she received from her parents after she came out to them as a lesbian. It was so traumatizing �" her mother said she would commit suicide if she told anyone else �" that Bradstreet left her home country of England for the United States at the age of 24.

"When my parents found out I was a lesbian, the reaction was so severe and so damaging that I had to leave England. After seeking some help, I was pretty much told you need to get away," Bradstreet says in the video, which can be seen below.

She explains in the video she decided to speak out about her parents because "people need to understand there are difficulties in families" when a child comes out of the closet.

Gay SF PUC manager to retire in August

Colleagues, friends, and family will honor Ed Harrington , a gay man who is general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, at an award ceremony tonight (Monday, March 19). The recognition comes as Harrington readies to end his 28-year career with the city.

The Municipal Fiscal Advisory Committee, a project of San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, will present Harrington, 62, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. A number of city employees are being awarded at the event for public managerial excellence.

In an interview Friday, Harrington told the Bay Area Reporter he plans to retire at the end of August.

"It is time to just do other things in life," he said.

Harrington started working for the city at the PUC and then became San Francisco controller, which he served as from 1991 to 2008. Then former Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed him to the general manager post at the PUC after ousting Susan Leal, a lesbian and former supervisor, from the job.

He expected to remain for only two years �" August will mark four and a half years �" and would have already retired several years ago had he remained as controller.

"I have had incredible jobs," said Harrington. "The people I have worked with have been wonderful and the stuff I have been able to work on, such as rebuilding the water system, have been really fun. But it's been 28 years."

After he departs later this year, Harrington wants to focus on constructing a home office and art studio on the Sonoma County property he and his husband, artist Dan Scannell, own near the Petrified Forest in Calistoga.

"I want to build an art studio for him and the office for me. And I want to build it myself," said Harrington. "I think it would be a really good other side of brain use."

He was adamant that following his retirement he would not go into consulting work.

"If the city needs me for something, I would be happy to volunteer for stuff. I am not leaving here to go be a consultant," said Harrington. "I am not going to make money somewhere else."

The 2012 Good Government Awards will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the North Light Court at San Francisco City Hall tonight. Tickets costs $85 per person and can be purchased online at

Low elected president of API group

Evan Low, the openly gay vice mayor of Campbell, has been elected the 2012 president of the Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials constituency group. The vote came during a business meeting last week at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference.

At 28 years old, Low is one of the country's youngest out lawmakers and a rising star among Democratic political circles. He had to suspend a bid for state Assembly this year when his boss, state Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), ended up in the South Bay district in which he planned to run due to redistricting.

The constituency group's mission is to provide Asian Pacific American municipal officials and their colleagues with a forum to share ideas and develop leadership experience.

Established in 1985, it also serves as a vehicle for members to discuss problems and explore solutions, debate policy issues, and contribute to the success of American cities and towns, according to a release on Low's election.

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