Centralia Attorney Seeking District Court Bench

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Dozens of green and blue campaign signs imploring residents to elect Wade Samuelson Lewis County District Court judge have sprouted up countywide this past month in support of the long-time Centralia attorney. 

Samuelson, a father of four, announced his candidacy for Lewis County district judge in late December. So far, he is the only candidate.

Samuelson will run for the position held by current District Court Judge Michael P. Roewe, who was elected as Lewis County district judge six elections in a row and has spent the past 23 years presiding in misdemeanor criminal cases and small claims court.

While Samuelson said he has thought about running for judge for the past few years, he said he had no intention of running against Roewe. When Roewe told him he was not going to seek re-election in 2014, Samuelson said he officially made the decision to pursue it.

“I just felt like I wanted something more challenging in my career,” Samuelson said. “I knew that Roewe was retiring and I just thought it was a logical move for me.”

While Roewe was hesitant to comment on Samuelson’s candidacy as the election is still several months away, he said Samuelson “Is a very intelligent attorney and quite competent.”

Samuelson, who has spent most of his life in Lewis County, has worked for more than 17 years as an attorney, and more than 10 years as a pro tem judge, meaning he fills in for district and municipal court judges on occasion.

He has also previously worked as an instructor in the criminal justice program at Centralia College, and served as the chair of the Washington State Bar Association Criminal Law Section.

“I can do the job, and do it well,” Samuelson said. “I do have a strong sense of justice, and everybody who comes through the doors of the court needs to get the right answer — whether it is the answer they want or not.”

Samuelson said one quality of good judges — one he plans to bring to the position — is consistency. A solid judge, he said, must know the law, manage the courtroom, start on time, devise a system of calling cases, and deal with people in a clear, yet respectful manner.

“I think I will make court be a better experience for everyone,” Samuelson said.

Working in private practice, Samuelson handles a wide variety of cases, but he said his favorite are criminal cases.

They are challenging, as most constitutional protections of our society are tested in the criminal side of things, he said. 

Also, he added, police reports can be wildly entertaining.

Despite announcing his candidacy only about a month ago, and with 10 months until the November election, Samuelson’s campaign has so far started strong.

The Centralia attorney’s Facebook page, “Wade Samuelson for Lewis County District Court Judge,” which was launched in December, has already garnered more than 700 likes and features a long list of people who have already endorsed Samuelson. The endorsements include all three Lewis County commissioners, Sheriff Steve Mansfield and Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.

“(Samuelson) has experience and a good knowledge of the law,” Meyer said. “That’s what you need in a judge.”

Editor's note: The print version of this story contained the following incorrect information: Wade Samuelson never served as the chair of the Washington State Bar Association. He served as the the chair of the Washington State Bar Association Criminal Law Section. The mistake was due to reporter’s error.