The filing period for the first contested election in eight years for a judgeship in Stanislaus County ended Tuesday, and the field will be a crowded one.
Six candidates pulled papers to run in the June election for a bench seat being vacated by retiring Judge Donald Shaver.
Defense attorney Martha Carlton-Magaña and Superior Court Commissioner Nancy William-sen filed papers last week.
Four others put themselves in the race with last-minute filings Tuesday. They are: Shawn Bessey, Stanislaus County deputy district attorney; William Mussman, managing partner for the business law firm Mussman and Mussman; Philip Pimentel, a lawyer specializing in family law; and attorney Geoffrey Hutcheson.
Carlton-Magaña said her 34 years in the courtroom have put her in a "unique position to give back."
"I've been able to watch a whole lot of judges do their jobs and help them do their jobs -- good and bad," she said. "My goal is simply to help our court become an independent, strong, balanced court."
Carlton-Magaña said she doesn't come with a platform of issues.
"I truly do not believe that any judge should be running for office based on issues," she said. "You can't trust a judge if the judge wears a label on their chest."
Williamsen, a lawyer since 1984 and a judicial officer for the past 11 years, decides cases in Superior Court dealing with children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
"Thousands of people in crisis have come before me," William-sen said. "I believe serving as a judge will allow me to do more."
Williamsen stressed the importance of giving each side an "equal voice" in the courtroom.
"It seems like it would be easy to do, but we all come with our own biases. We have to set that aside," she said.
The last competitive county race was in 2002. Seven candidates faced off in a March primary that year for a seat vacated by the retirement of Judge Edward Lacy Jr.
Then-Deputy District Attorneys Linda McFadden and Alan Cassidy emerged from that field, with McFadden defeating Cassidy.
Shaver, 60, was appointed to the court in 1990 after working as a prosecutor in the district attorney's office for 13 years. Shaver left the bench in Stanislaus County for four months in 2006, when he served with the International Criminal Court in The Hague on a temporary assignment in The Netherlands.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2337.