Monday, April 5, 2004
Fourth Lawyer Qualifies for State Bar Board Race
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A fourth candidate has qualified to run to replace John Van de Kamp as a representative of Los Angeles County on the State Bar Board of Governors.
A state bar spokesman said Friday a petition nominating Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Frank M. Tavelman was received before Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline, but was not processed until Friday.
Tavelman joins Los Angeles Deputy Public Defender Marguerite D. Downing, Sherman Oaks attorney Phillip Feldman, and Los Angeles lawyer Joseph Lewis in the race for that seat. MetNews co-publisher Jo-Ann W. Grace, Northridge attorney James A. Otto, and Glendale lawyer Matthew Rifat are running for a second District 7 seat, which is being vacated by Matthew Cavanaugh.
District 7 consists of Los Angeles County.
Tavelman’s entry brings to seven the number of candidates in the two local races this year. That is the same number of candidates who ran last year, when only one seat was at stake.
It also means that four of the six losing candidates last year—including the top three vote-getters—have chosen to reprise their efforts. Otto finished second last year with 1,102 votes, when former Municipal Court Judge Sheldon Sloan was elected with 2,100 votes.
Tavelman finished third in that race with 913 votes, Feldman placed fourth with 853 votes, and Lewis was last with 460 votes. Long Beach attorney Curtis L. Harrington got 689 votes, finishing fifth, while downtown Los Angeles lawyer Scott W. Davenport got 573 votes and came in sixth.
Cavanaugh will leave the board in October after completing his three-year term. Van de Kamp will also leave the board unless he chosen State Bar president by his colleagues.
He is one of four third-year board members running for that post.
Voting for the Board of Governors is by district, with ballots being mailed out to members April 30, due back June 30, and canvassed July 12-15.
Tavelman could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Otto—who is not James D. Otto, a former member of the Board of Governors who is now a Los Angeles Superior Court judge—said he has the support of Cavanaugh, whose self-described “outsider” candidacy in 2001 ended an era in which the influential Breakfast Club had effectively selected District 7 representatives.
Though Van de Kamp, a Breakfast Club candidate, was also elected that year—without opposition—in 2002 Cavanaugh-backed candidates defeated two candidates who had the Breakfast Club’s support.
Last year the group reasserted itself, backing Sloan, who won easily. This year it has endorsed Downing and Grace.
Cavanaugh said yesterday he has not yet decided whether to back Tavelman’s effort, but called him a “strong candidate.”
Breakfast Club Chair Patrick Kelly of the downtown firm of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker said Thursday the group will “aggressively and enthusiastically” back Downing and Grace with mailings, print advertising and possibly by organizing campaign events. Otto and Rifat said yesterday they had not yet decided whether to spend significant amounts of money on their election bids.
Otto, a sole practitioner who spent seven years on the staff of the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, said he is “thinking about” purchasing a mailing list from the State Bar and sending out letters to solicit support. He noted that he did “hardly any campaigning” last year.
The State Bar should be providing more service to members and its dues are too high, Otto said.
Rifat, an Orange County resident who started a practice in Glendale last year after three years as general counsel for a medical services firm in Irvine, said he was still undecided about waging a mail campaign but would not rule it out. His focus if elected would be on securing adequate funding for the judicial branch, he said, asserting that the State Bar has been “overly sensitive to the issue of being political” where court resources are concerned.
Grace has called for closer coordination between the State Bar and local bar groups, and has said she would strive to represent the interests of such groups if elected.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company