By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
— Dan Stake
Dan Stake, a 50-year resident of Kingfisher, is a candidate for associate district judge in Tuesday’s election.
The non-partisan race Tuesday features two other area attorneys, Sarah Boeckman, of Kingfisher, and Robert E. “Bob” Davis, of Okarche. If no candidate receives a majority of votes Tuesday, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be Aug. 24.
Stake said he is running out of a desire to put his 29-years of legal experience to use in Kingfisher County.
“I have been in front of a lot of judges all over the state,” he said. “They have different demeanors, practices and I want to take the best of what I’ve seen and put it to work here.”
The outstanding issues in the race, based on Stake’s conversations with people, are making the system more efficient and moving cases quicker. People also are concerned about dealing with drug offenders and youthful offenders, he said. He said Kingfisher is a law-and-order town. The only answer is to take the cases one by one.
“The dilemma for any judge is how to balance justice and mercy, the desire to punish versus the perception some are worth saving,” he said.
Each case is an individual set of facts, he said, and he knows some people will not like every decision he makes.
“After living here this long — I have practiced half my career here — I have a pretty good sense of what the community expects,” Stake said.
Kingfisher County has a low crime rate, but people are concerned about the persistence of the methamphetamine problem. In spite of efforts by law enforcement, meth has made a resurgence, due to new ways of manufacturing it.
In addition to the meth problem, Stake said there are “a couple hundred” felonies each year and some misdemeanors, but overall a low crime rate. In recent years there has been a problem with cattle rustling, but there was a small group of people involved and when they were apprehended the problem was resolved.
“People are concerned with how long things take in court,” he said. “That is a function of docketing. I have a lot of federal court experience and they take control of the docket more than local judges do and things go more quickly.”
In federal court the judge says when a case will be tried and while the attorneys have some input, they tend to follow more federal procedure, where once the case is filed it becomes the judge’s case.
Canadian County Special District Judge Bob Davis is vying for an associate district judge seat in Kingfisher County.
Davis has been practicing law 34 years and has served as special district judge in Canadian County the last seven years.
He said he was prompted to run for associate district judge in Kingfisher County because he already is a judge. The Kingfisher position is a better job, he said, because it’s an elected position.
“That’s where I started practicing law and that’s where I want to be a judge, in Kingfisher County where I live,” he said.
Davis said people have indicated they would like to see a better running courthouse. There are too many continuances, he said he has been told, and people want cases moved faster through the system. A major concern is the effect of drug crimes on the young people and residents of the county.
“Drug crimes lead to vandalism, thefts, things that lead to money for their drug habit and people who sell drugs to minors. Those are more serious,” he said.
There also are some property issues, he said. The system becomes complicated, he said, when judges do not enforce the law. Law enforcement arrests suspects, and prosecutors prosecute them. Judges cannot set their own policy, Davis said, they must follow the laws of Oklahoma and the Constitution.
“As a judge, you don’t sit or create any policy of partisan government, this is a non-partisan race. One of my opponents is running as a conservative, but as a judge you are totally cloaked in neutrality,” he said.
Davis said a judge carries that neutrality to the bench and rules based on the law. A Kingfisher County resident for 33 years, he lives in Okarche, where his family has been since the land run.
Kingfisher attorney Sarah Boeckman has entered the race for associate district judge in Kingfisher County.
The non-partisan race Tuesday features two other area attorneys, Dan Stake, of Kingfisher, and Robert E. “Bob” Davis, of Okarche. If no candidate receives a majority of votes Tuesday, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be Aug. 24.
Boeckman has lived in Kingfisher more than 21 years. She began her law practice in Oklahoma City in 1987, then married Steve Boeckman and moved to Kingfisher to practice law with him in 1989.
She said she is running to give back to the people of Kingfisher County.
“I’m the kind of person who does that,” she said. “I grew up in a family that always gave back what they received. I feel it’s a good time with an open seat.”
Judges do not have issues, she said. They are required to look at the facts of a case, follow the law and the Oklahoma Constitution. She said she will bring fairness to the court, and anyone who enters her courtroom will be treated equally whether they have an attorney or not.
“I will not legislate from the bench, and I will be fair to all people,” she said.
Boeckman promised to bring a fresh look at court procedures to see if there is a way to make them more efficient and strive to bring added efficiency. Civil cases top the docket in Kingfisher County, she said, but drug cases are the No. 1 criminal complaints.