Name: Meagan Flynn

Age: 50

Residence: Portland

Education: Law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law. Bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from Willamette University.

Name: Van Pounds

Age: 63

Residence: Salem

Education: Master’s degree in dispute resolution and law degree from University of Missouri-Columbia.

Judge Meagan Flynn, appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court last year, is seeking a six-year term on the court against challenger Van Pounds, a senior policy analyst at the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

Flynn, 50, who served as an Oregon Court of Appeals judge between 2014 and 2017, said campaigning for the nonpartisan position on the May 15 primary ballot gives her an opportunity to connect with Oregon residents and teach them about the state’s highest court.

“For me, this election is a chance to get out of my office, meet people and be an ambassador of the justice system and court,” Flynn said.

“We are pretty anonymous, but it’s important for people to understand who we are and what we are doing on behalf of everybody in the state.”

Flynn describes being on the seven-member Supreme Court as being a part of a team. The court receives about 900 cases a year and takes on about 60 to 70 of those cases, she said.

A former attorney in private practice for two decades, Flynn said she is passionate about access to justice issues across the state. She supports programs that provide people access to lawyers and legal documents.

In addition, Flynn is involved in the We the People Program, a national program that teaches high school students about the legal system and the U.S. Constitution. Flynn works with high school seniors in Portland.

“As a judge, I can’t do the same kind of advocating. But I work on education and creating access to justice,” Flynn said.

Flynn was on the ballot in 2016 for a position on the Oregon Court of Appeals but was originally appointed to the court by former Gov. John Kitzhaber in 2014. She was again appointed in March 2017 by Gov. Kate Brown to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Pounds, 63, takes issue with the way many Oregon judges are selected. They are appointed rather than elected and then they often run unopposed for elections. And during an election, the appointed judges have the advantage of being an incumbent, he said.

Pounds views his candidacy as a way to give voters a choice on the ballot and to highlight the judicial selection process in hopes of making it more publicly transparent and inclusive.

“One of the reasons that really pushed me over the edge was this idea that the judicial selection process needs to be re-evaluated with an eye toward improvement,” Pounds said.

Pounds was a lawyer in Missouri who moved to Oregon in 2011 to work as the chief of enforcement and securities at the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. He has since changed positions and is now a senior policy analyst within the department.

His management style came into question in a 2015 investigative report obtained last week by Willamette Week. The Portland newspaper reported the internal investigation found employees felt Pounds lacked credibility, and they did not trust him or feel he was an effective manager.

Specifically, the report alleged two female subordinates said they were required to keep log books of their work and copy Pounds on all emails when male employees in similar positions were not required to do so, according to the newspaper.

Pounds said he was never informed about the investigation and first heard about it when he was contacted by Willamette Week.

“It just blew me away when it came up,” Pounds said. “I was shocked and confused by the whole thing.”

Pounds has since read the report but said all of the names in it are redacted. He denies the allegations in the report and questions its legitimacy.

“If it was an issue, my employer would have made an issue of it,” he said. “And I wouldn’t be working here.”

Pounds chalks up the investigation to entering the world of politics. He is now trying to stay focused on his message about challenging the judicial selection process.

“Whether I win or lose, if it increases voter awareness and voter concern, I think we all win,” Pounds said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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