The other day I wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Arizona Republic. I don't know if it made the print edition, but it's up on azcentral.com.
The letter was in response to an op/ed by Lisa Loo, titled Do judges justice. Finish marking your ballot. I appreciate Loo's message; down-ballot races are important, and your vote counts for a lot more, proportionally, than your vote for President.
But it can be damned difficult to find information on down-ballot candidates and initiatives; the less high-profile and glamorous the race, the harder it is to learn about it.
Loo points to Judicial Performance Review (azjudges.info), which scores judges on a variety of criteria.
The problem is, without context, those scores are just numbers; they don't mean anything if no explanation is provided.
So here's my letter to the editor, quoted in full:
I appreciated Lisa Loo's op-ed on the importance of studying up on judges and filling out the complete ballot, but it's easier said than done.
I know Jo Lynn Gentry is the only judge to receive failing marks, but I have been unable to find any explanation of why. Low scores out of context lack meaning, and I'm reluctant to cast a vote without an explanation for why I'm casting it.
It's not just the judges; a number of down-ballot candidates and local initiatives are obscure and have little information available. (Should TUHSD be allowed to sell two lots of property? I have no idea!)
What can we as voters do to educate ourselves when so little information is available?
The Republic didn't respond with any good answers for these down-ballot races.
A commenter named Jay Martin added this:
Exactly, I've been scouring why such a low score for hours and the only thing I can think of is that she ruled against blocking Prop 205 from the ballot and people against the measure are now upset at this.
Prop 205 is the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. (Sort of. It's not full legalization, and it heavily favors existing vendors, basically setting up a cartel. Suffice it to say, I'm voting Yes because any move to stop putting people in prison for marijuana use is a step in the right direction, even if this isn't the ideal way of doing it.) County Attorney Bill Montgomery challenged it and tried to prevent it from getting on the ballot; Judge Gentry dismissed his challenge.
Could that be the reason Gentry has received such low marks?
In a word, no. Gentry's dismissal of the 205 challenge happened two months after Judicial Performance Review released her low scores.
So I have no idea why she Does Not Meet Expectations. And I'm not willing to vote to remove her without a reason. So I guess I get to decide between voting to keep her or not voting on her either way.
I still don't know what to do about that TUHSD thing, either, but I've got a friend who works at Marcos; I guess I should text him and ask if he knows what the deal is.