Sheryl Gordon McCloud has been arguing cases before the Washington State Supreme Court for 25 years. Now, she’s running for position 9 on that court, a seat vacated by Justice Tom Chambers and vied for by three other candidates.
McCloud largely argues Constitutional rights issues. “I feel like I am in the best position to bring that kind of experience to the court,” she says. That’s “more important than career politician experience,” which her opponents bring, she says.
McCloud, whose first pro bono case was arguing for a pregnancy disability leave law in a landmark California case, and who has represented gender discrimination suits and domestic violence victims, is the only woman in her race.
She is running against Bruce Hilyer, John Ladenburg and Richard Sanders. Most legal organizations in the state have rated Hilyer and Ladenburg as exceptionally well or well qualified, according to votingforjudges.org. While Sanders is considered the least qualified, he served on the Supreme Court from 1995 to 2011.
“Each of the candidates brings something different to the table,” says McCloud. At their debates, she says, what makes “the perfect experience for the Washington Supreme Court” is often what their arguments revolve around.
“I’m running on the merits of what I bring to the position,” says McCloud. She cites as her hallmarks of experience the 25 years she has spent fighting to uphold basic Constitutional rights, representing clients free of charge, and working for fairness and equality.
“I’ve got lots of lower court experience,” she says. “I know jury trials pretty well, but I also know Washington Supreme Court arguments as well.”
In addition to her legal caseload, she is an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law.
To date, McCloud has been endorsed by 18 judges, dozens of lawyers, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington State, and several local Democratic organizations, among others.
As for her chances of making it past the primary, “I feel better and better about them as time goes on,” she says. Despite a lack of name recognition, “I feel that once people have gotten to know me, the endorsements have come in.”
The Bainbridge Island mother of two confesses that timing factored into her decision to run. As her second son heads off to college this fall, she’s coming out of the “care-giving phase,” even though the teenager isn’t around much anyway, she laughs.
McCloud, whose father was a physical education teacher, loves sports in her rare moments of free time.
She turns to jogging and boxing “to keep my sanity right now,” and hopes to get back to Zumba, rollerblading and biking. “When I want to relax, I do go for the adrenaline.”
McCloud is a member of Bainbridge Island’s Chavurat Shir Hayam.
“My basic connection with Judaism from growing up is the value of justice, education and family,” she says. “I’m not a very religious person, but I’m a person very devoted to those values.”