Canciamilla to seek judgeship

Joe Canciamilla

Joe Canciamilla

Former state Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg will seek a seat on the judicial bench in 2010 or 2012.

Canciamilla filed a candidate intention statement to run for Superior Court judge in Contra Costa County. He has not designated which of the county’s 35 departments he will  seek but said he has no plans to challenge a sitting judge.

A moderate Democrat who often ran afoul of his party, Canciamilla had hoped to run for the state Senate. But he dropped out of the 2008 primary when Democratic leaders made it crystal clear they preferred Mark DeSaulnier, who was subsequently elected to the seat.

Canciamilla says the bitter partisanship in the Legislature helped open his eyes to the idea of running for judge.

“The nature of the partisanship in Sacramento right now is not a good fit for me,” said Canciamilla, who is a lawyer and co-owner of a Pittsburg funeral home.  “I have a unique set of skills with my legal background and having seen the process of lawmaking from the legislative perspective.  I want to find a place to use my talents where I can help people.”

The candidate intention statement was not intended to serve as a formal candidacy announcement, though.

It’s about the money.

Canciamilla had roughly $300,000 parked in a statewide attorney general campaign account, most of which came from his 2008 state Senate campaign fund. He never intended to run for attorney general but the law says candidates must segregate and account for every dime raised for campaigns. The new statement will allow him to transfer his state dollars into his judicial campaign.

Judicial candidates run countywide but must run for a specific department at the time they file for inclusion on the ballot.


Assessor: Earl “Bob” Brooks, incumbent Gus Kramer and John T. Nejedly

Auditor-Controller: Incumbent Steve Ybarra

Board of Supervisors, District 1: Mister Phillips and incumbent John Gioia

Board of Supervisors, District 4: Michael McGill and Karen Mitchoff

Clerk-Recorder: Incumbent Steve Weir

County Superintendent of Schools: Incumbent Joe Ovick

District Attorney: Mark Peterson, Elle Falahat and Dan O’Malley

Sheriff-Coroner: Brian Kalinowski and David Livingston

Treasurer-Tax Collector: Incumbent Bill Pollacek

State Assembly District 11: Democrats Emanuel Ogunleye and Susan Bonilla

State Assembly District 14: Democrat Nancy Skinner

State Assembly District 15: Republican Abram Wilson

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Kris Hunt

    Joe will make an excellent judge.

  • Peter Christiansen

    Joe Canciamilla would be an excellent judge.

  • Ralph Hoffmann, Guest Columnist

    I feel it’s a great honor that, on your blog, Lisa, I’m the first to congratulate Joe Canciamilla on his decision to run for Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa County. I also proudly endorse Steve Weir. Besides them, I’m not impressed.

  • Tom K

    Good for Joe and good for Co Co County. Joe is among the most able and gifted local officials. He has often expressed his frustration at the “train wreck” of Sacramento notwithstanding the sincere efforts he made to change that environment when he was in the Assembly. It isn’t surprising that he has looked elsewhere to find a way to give back to the community.

    His decision to try for the bench makes sense. Not only is he clearly bright and dilligent enough for the job but also he is very even-keel. He doesn’t allow the passions and intensities of debates from getting the better of his judgment…exactly the kind of approach appropriate for a judge.

    Regardless of your political views it should be clear that Joe will make a great judge. Hopefully the voters will avail themselves of this opportunity next year.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Why would Joe make an excellent judge? There are some dumb judges around and some smart ones.

  • Elwood

    Joe is one of the smart ones. Just talk with him for a while.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Ok, Elwood. I respect your opinions.

  • Tom K

    I respose to the “logic” of RR, I can only offer the following: a)grapefruit, b) hypothalmus, c) Kool and the Gang, d) Tegucigalpa, Honduras, e) lithium, and, of course, f) pretzels.

    If someone can outdo this list of non-sequiters and approximate the thinking of RR better than I have just done, go for it. After all, the marmoset with purple shoes says he likes Ike and plans o buying war bonds.

  • Reading the threads on some of these blog entries is like trying to remember the sixties for some people.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Just call me Senile Columnist, the Voice of the Unreasoned.

  • John W.

    He might (probably will) make a fine judge, but I don’t think we are generally well-served by having judges elected rather than appointed but subject to recall. Even usually well-informed voters are rarely in a position to know who these people are in terms of experience, legal qualification, reputation and temperment. So, it becomes a name recognition game, based on ability to raise funds. They should be appointed after being screened by a qualified legal panel. Also, no disrespect to Joe Canciamilla, but I hate to see judgeships be yet another place to land and mark time in California’s great game of political musical chairs — owing mostly to a ridiculous system of term limits, in which freshman legislators become committee chairmen and even Assembly Speakers.