Election Day is coming soon, and one race of great importance to our community is for Circuit Court judge. Generally, many of the names on the ballot for the judiciary are unfamiliar to most of the voters. It is not apathy; it is simply the way things happen in our busy lives. When unsure, a majority of people naturally tend to vote for a name they have heard. And a majority is what wins elections.

Here is a name we would all do well to hear prior to marking our ballots in May: Mary Ann Murk. She is an attorney in Astoria who handles a wide range of cases and is running for judge of the Circuit Court in Clatsop County.

The most likely place to find her name written is on the court docket at the Astoria courthouse. It doesn't appear in the newspaper very often because the biggest part of her work is on behalf of children in the community, and these are the types of cases that are rightfully afforded privacy.

Another thing that appears on the Clatsop court docket is an alarming number of juvenile cases. (The number is heartbreaking, actually, but that is a subject for another discussion.) There are a few attorneys whose names are associated with the listed juvenile matters, and the most prevalent is Murk. Regardless of who in the case is her client, her purpose for being there is the well-being of the children. Very few of the kids whose futures are discussed in the courtroom are part of a case because of anything they have done or can control. Most of them are involved because of the adults around them.

Murk works with passion in this field, and her motivation is goodness within her. She does her work with skill, precision and compassion. Her understanding of the statutes and the reasons behind them is so vast as to be astounding.

She cares very deeply about not only doing things right, but ensuring that all the other professionals and agencies do their jobs right, as well. This is not to say that her talents are only in the juvenile field. She applies her skills and knowledge just as effectively to all areas of the law in which she works. But our family has been personally touched by her work with kids and the adults around them, and through it we have gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of protecting children. Few things can hold greater influence on the future of society than its youngest members, and nothing is more important to the community than the families who live in it.

Because kids are involved in a great percentage of the cases coming into the Clatsop County Courthouse, our community would be well served by someone with such compassionate expertise making decisions that shape the future of its youngest and most vulnerable members. The citizens of Clatsop County need a judge like Mary Ann Murk. The children of Clatsop County deserve Mary Ann Murk.