The Bexar County Courthouse. Image Courtesy of Bexar County

Ask any of them: The system stinks. Even the winners don’t like the way they are put on the bench by voters in general elections. Most voters simply have no idea who they are voting for or why. It’s either a guessing game or a straight party line vote.

Just about everything that happens at the county courthouse involves a judge, whether it’s a criminal trial, a juvenile facing jail time, a divorce, a family custody case, a business dispute, or the disposition of abused children. Judges play an important role in our society, yet they occupy the bottom of every election ballot. The candidates know most of the people who vote are ready to exit the voting booth by the time they reach the judicial races with their unfamiliar names, confusing court numbers, and long lists of races.

It doesn’t take long to sweep out some judges and sweep in some others. Neither approach — guessing name recognition or ethnicity or voting the party line — is an effective way to pick good judges or send the bad ones packing.

Most judges loathe running in partisan races that require them to raise campaign funds, mostly from the lawyers who practice in their courts, and then sit and pray on election night that they aren’t affiliated with the wrong party. A few of the candidates raise enough money to buy billboards, put out yard signs and buy some media advertising. Most struggle to mount robust campaigns.

Even a well-run campaign is no guarantee voters will learn why one candidate is a better choice than his or her lesser-known opponent. The simple reality of an attractive or familiar last name, or confusion over a candidate’s identity, can swing a race in the wrong direction.

It happens all the time.

Unfortunately, those who do know the sitting judges and their challengers know that neither party has the corner on good judicial candidates. Each party has its share of good judges and not-so-good judges. There’s simply no way to vote the party line and elect the best possible bench. When you do vote the party line, know that you are probably throwing out a good judge and putting in a less desirable judge.

Tuesday night it was the Democrats turn to feel the pain.  With all precincts reporting, Republicans won all 12 contested district court judicial races. One Democrat was re-elected unopposed. Two unopposed Republicans were re-elected. The Democrats won a single county court at law race that was contested, going 1-13 for the night. Here are the final totals:

District Court Judicial Races

District Judge, 45th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Stephani Walsh (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .    155,925   53.40       100,482        55,443
 John Bustamante (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .    136,092   46.60        83,845        52,247

District Judge, 144th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Lorina Rummel (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    155,554   53.54       100,219        55,335
 Paul Vasquez (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    135,008   46.46        83,107        51,901

District Judge, 150th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Renée McElhaney (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .    157,636   54.05       101,846        55,790
 Edna Elizondo (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    134,034   45.95        82,296        51,738

District Judge, 186th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Jefferson Moore (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .    146,305   50.36        93,225        53,080
 Mary T. Green (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    144,192   49.64        90,125        54,067

District Judge, 187th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Steve Hilbig (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    155,372   52.88        99,348        56,024
 Stephanie R. Boyd (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .    138,452   47.12        86,260        52,192

District Judge, 224th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Cathleen "Cathy" Stryker (REP)  .  .  .    161,405   55.37       104,050        57,355
 Lauro Bustamante (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .    130,102   44.63        79,896        50,206

District Judge, 225th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Peter Sakai (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    185,627  100.00       115,446        70,181

District Judge, 226th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Sid Harle (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    192,409  100.00       121,840        70,569

District Judge, 227th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Kevin M. O'Connell (REP)  .  .  .  .  .    155,161   53.52       100,042        55,119
 Tony Jimenez (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    134,755   46.48        82,950        51,805

District Judge, 285th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Richard Price (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    156,197   53.78       100,948        55,249
 Raymond A. Villareal (DEM).  .  .  .  .    134,215   46.22        82,386        51,829

District Judge, 288th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Sol Casseb (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    165,767   56.82       106,622        59,145
 James A. Rickerson (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .    125,948   43.18        77,521        48,427

District Judge, 289th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Daphne Previti Austin (REP)  .  .  .  .    147,916   50.97        95,022        52,894
 Carmen Kelsey (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    142,262   49.03        88,227        54,035

District Judge, 290th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Melisa Skinner (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .    153,076   52.77        98,539        54,537
 Jennifer Peña (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    137,011   47.23        84,494        52,517

District Judge, 436th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Lisa Jarrett (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    162,874   56.38       104,625        58,249
 Eddie Bravenec (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .    126,021   43.62        77,701        48,320

District Judge, 437th Judicial District
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Lori I. Valenzuela (REP)  .  .  .  .  .    192,588  100.00       121,162        71,426

County Court at Law Races

Judge, County Court at Law No. 1
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 John D. Fleming (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .    148,188   51.06        94,815        53,373
 Al Alonso (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    142,032   48.94        88,425        53,607

Judge, County Court at Law No. 2
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Jason Wolff (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    154,882   53.31        99,474        55,408
 Jeanette Burney Sullivan (DEM)  .  .  .    135,663   46.69        83,894        51,769

Judge, County Court at Law No. 3
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Art Rossi (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    143,515   49.55        91,642        51,873
 David J. Rodriguez (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .    146,094   50.45        91,097        54,997

Judge, County Court at Law No. 4
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Jason R. Garrahan (REP).  .  .  .  .  .    149,921   51.82        96,241        53,680
 Alfredo Ximenez (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .    139,406   48.18        86,351        53,055

Judge, County Court at Law No. 5
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Jason Pulliam (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    152,846   52.88        98,387        54,459
 Brenda Levenstein (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .    136,178   47.12        84,071        52,107

Judge, County Court at Law No. 6
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Wayne Christian (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .    148,533   51.19        95,268        53,265
 Rochelle Acevedo (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .    141,626   48.81        87,918        53,708

Judge, County Court at Law No. 7
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Eugenia "Genie" Wright (REP) .  .  .  .    154,670   53.47        99,785        54,885
 Michael De Leon (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .    134,599   46.53        82,769        51,830

Judge, County Court at Law No. 8
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Celeste Brown (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    146,975   50.71        94,011        52,964
 Liza Rodriguez (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .    142,872   49.29        88,890        53,982

Judge, County Court at Law No. 9
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Walden Shelton (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .    155,298   53.86       100,413        54,885
 Carlos Quezada (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .    133,017   46.14        81,513        51,504

Judge, County Court at Law No. 10
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Karen Crouch (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    150,162   51.59        96,307        53,855
 Tina Torres (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    140,933   48.41        87,544        53,389

Judge, County Court at Law No. 11
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Tommy Stolhandske (REP).  .  .  .  .  .    152,815   52.79        97,875        54,940
 Carlo Key (DEM)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    136,643   47.21        84,951        51,692

Judge, County Court at Law No. 12
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Scott Roberts (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    150,201   51.83        97,160        53,041
 John A. Longoria (DEM) .  .  .  .  .  .    139,585   48.17        85,763        53,822

Judge, County Court at Law No. 13
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Crystal Chandler (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .    152,733   52.78        98,796        53,937
 Rosa Maria"Rosie"Gonzalez (DEM) .  .  .    136,666   47.22        83,805        52,861

Judge, County Court at Law No. 14
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Susan Skinner (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    152,866   52.69        98,232        54,634
 Ernest Acevedo, Jr. (DEM) .  .  .  .  .    137,243   47.31        84,909        52,334

Judge, County Court at Law No. 15
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Bob Behrens (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    145,835   50.33        93,571        52,264
 Michael T. LaHood (DEM).  .  .  .  .  .    143,918   49.67        89,262        54,656

Judge, County Probate Court No. 1
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Kelly M. Cross (REP).  .  .  .  .  .  .    146,611   50.73        93,215        53,396
 Barbara"Barbie"Scharf-Zeldes (DEM) .  .    142,418   49.27        89,248        53,170

Judge, County Probate Court No. 2
Vote For  1
    (WITH 712 OF 712 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
 Tom Rickhoff (REP)  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    193,443  100.00       121,617        71,826

Click here to view all Bexar County election results.

This story was originally published on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. 

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.