While lawbreakers might start out thinking police officers and sheriff’s deputies are their worst enemies, the judicial system reveals prosecuting attorneys to be the bad guys’ ultimate archenemies. For almost three decades in our community, Art Curtis has held the powerful post of county prosecuting attorney. He drew only one political opponent through the years and none in the past dozen years.
But with Curtis retiring this year, three candidates have stepped forward in the Aug. 17 primary with hopes of taking the reins and providing the Clark County prosecuting attorney’s office with new leadership. The two who are best qualified to advance to the Nov. 2 general election are Tony Golik, a major crimes prosecutor for the county, and Brent Boger, senior assistant city attorney for Vancouver.
Ask those who work in the prosecuting attorney’s office, and those who most often come in contact with that office, and the clear favorite is Golik, who has prosecuted many high-profile criminal cases since he moved here 10 years ago. Prior to that, Golik was a major crimes prosecutor in Spokane. Indeed, it’s difficult to overstate the value of Golik’s endorsements. Not only have his fellow deputy prosecutors tabbed him as their top choice, he’s been endorsed by Vancouver police officers, Clark County sheriff’s officers and police officers in five other cities in Clark County.
Boger, though, also is a popular local figure. Much of that attention has been drawn in the political arena, where Boger has been active in the local Republican Party. More importantly, though, in the legal arena Boger has advised Vancouver city leaders on numerous issues such as finance, land use and planning. He also has provided legal advice to the city as it has mounted opposition to the proposed Cowlitz tribal casino in north Clark County. Boger’s endorsements list includes Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.
Boger is campaigning on the diversity of his experience, having argued cases in state and federal court and represented private citizens in numerous matters such as civil rights and intrusive government regulations. But Boger’s trumpet turns into a slide whistle when Golik opens his dossier that includes thousands of cases as a prosecuting attorney, with 10 years in the department he seeks to lead.
Races for this office should be nonpartisan, but that crusade will be fought later. For now, Golik is a Democrat and Boger is a Republican. In neither case does that affiliation matter; both men reflect genuine, objective, nonpartisan approaches to putting bad people behind bars.
The third candidate for this office is George Kolin, a combative attorney whose attack-dog campaign style is off-putting. He’s running as an independent. Kolin was reprimanded in 2003 by the Washington State Bar Association for reportedly overcharging a client. The reprimand stated that he failed to “provide competent representation.”
More glowing are the credentials of Golik, who grew up in Milwaukie, Ore., and graduated from Gonzaga University, and Boger, who grew up in Olympia and graduated from the University of the Pacific in Sacramento, Calif.
Primary ballots will be mailed next Wednesday. For more information about Columbian endorsements, visit http://www.columbian.com/news/opinion and click on “2010 primary endorsements.”