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Steven Steward - Questionnaire 

What do you see as a judge's role in making Humboldt County a more just community? (200 words)

Judges have a central role in making sure that Humboldt County is a just and fair community. From handling the most serious criminal cases to deciding child custody disputes, a judge has the important job of ensuring the decisions are made fairly and free from political or other influences. To do this, a judge must avoid even the appearance of impropriety and work at all times to uphold and promote independence in decision making.

My wife and I are raising our young girls here in Humboldt, and the reason I am running for judge is because I want them to grow up in a fair and safe community that we can all be proud of. As a Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney, I have always maintained impartiality when prosecuting cases and would continue to do so as judge. Whether a defendant is rich or poor, powerful or not, my record shows that I have treated everyone equally and with respect. I will bring to bear this experience and my proven track record of impartiality to make Humboldt a more just community that we can all be proud of.

Much of crime in Humboldt County can be seen as cyclical, as drug and alcohol-related offenses make up the bulk of arrests locally, and a growing body of data indicates childhood trauma significantly increases the chances of someone being incarcerated later in life. How do you plan to use the power of a Humboldt County Superior Court judgeship to break some of these cycles? (200 words)

I am wide eyed about the challenges that our community and judiciary face and I am committed to breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol-related offenses that makeup the bulk of our local arrests. We are challenged by what is really a dual epidemic of substance abuse and a lack of mental health treatment in Humboldt County. To address this, I would pursue diversionary models that address the underlying causes of criminality for those non-violent offenders who show a sincere desire to seek rehabilitative service.

I have seen for myself that Drug Court works. That dual diagnosis rehabilitation centers that address substance abuse and mental health can work for those who are desirous of changing their lives. I am proud to say that I am a board member of the Waterfront Recovery Center in Eureka, which is a dual diagnosis facility that does transformational work in our community. As my record shows, I am not solely spending time in the courtroom prosecuting cases, I am working, on my own time, to address these issues and would continue to do so as a judge.

In recent years, many have described the workload facing local judges as daunting, saying they carry excessive caseloads that demand working nights and weekends while occupying a position that can be inherently socially isolating. With all that in mind, why do you want this job and how do you plan to find work-life balance? (200 words)

I don't want to be a judge because it is easy, but because it is worthwhile. It is worthwhile for the community, for each of us, and for our future.

The majority of my professional legal experience has been in public service. After graduating from Humboldt State University, I volunteered and worked in positions where I provided legal services to indigent clients suffering from domestic violence, needing child custody, needing help through the Violence Against Women Act, battered women services, restraining orders and more. On the criminal side, I have successfully prosecuted murder, manslaughter, grand theft and crimes against our natural environment.

My current job as a deputy DA is very demanding and I would continue the strategy of work-life balance that I currently use, which includes getting into our beautiful forest and beaches with my family. I currently work nights and weekends but always make time for family. Maintaining fairness and safety for all of us to enjoy our beautiful county is my highest priority.

The work is demanding and at times isolating but Humboldt deserves a judge who cares more about providing justice than vacation time. The demands are great but my determination to serve our community is greater.

Now, a brief questionnaire to help voters get to know you a bit better:

Age? 42

City of residence? Arcata

Where did you grow up? Just outside of Los Angeles

How long have you lived in Humboldt County? I first moved to Humboldt to attend HSU in 1998. After graduating with a BA in political science, I moved away to work on Capitol Hill and to get my law degree in Washington, DC. After meeting my wife and having our two daughters, we moved back to Humboldt because this is the place we want to live and to raise our children.

Can you please provide a brief education history? 

I attended HSU (Cal-Poly Humboldt) starting in 1998, where I received my BA in political science. I attended graduate school at San San Francisco State University and then received my law degree from The Catholic University, Columbus School of Law.

Can you please provide a brief work history?

After graduating from Humboldt State, I worked for a congressman in Washington, DC, handling legislative issues at the federal level including helping veterans. While attending law school, I worked in a domestic violence clinic, where where I provided legal services to indigent clients who suffered from domestic violence, needed child custody, needed help through the Violence Against Women Act, battered women services, restraining orders, and more.

Upon returning to California, I spent seven years representing low-income defendants in criminal courts throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area, defending clients in just about every courtroom in the biggest court systems in the country.

In my current assignment, I work as a deputy district attorney, prosecuting the most serious and complex crimes in Humboldt County. I also serve as the chief environmental prosecutor for the county where I work to prosecute crimes that affect our shared natural resources.

What is your current occupation? Deputy District Attorney

What do you consider the three most important endorsements you have received to date in your campaign? The Humboldt County Central Democratic Committee, AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and First District Supervisor Rex Bohn.

Now, a few questions to give voters a taste of your personality:

What is your favorite movie? To Kill and Mockingbird with Gregory Peck

What is your favorite book? Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

What magazine do you read most regularly? Surfers Journal

If your campaign had a theme song, what would it be? "Heart of Gold" by Neil young

Who is your favorite fictional judge? Judge Chamberlain Haller (played by Fred Gwynne) from My Cousin Vinny.

Who is your favorite real-life judge? Justice Thurgood Marshall

Dogs or cats? Dogs and cats.

What is your favorite hobby? Surfing and hiking our beautiful north coast beaches and playing the trumpet.

What would your superpower be and how would you use it?

I would have the power to determine if people are being honest. I would use it as Humboldt's next superior court judge!

If you could sum up your candidacy in a single haiku, what would it be?

Honest and fair always
Impartial, no exceptions
Serving our people

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