Bainbridge Island attorney running for Kitsap Superior Court judge position

Bainbridge Island attorney Karen Klein has announced her candidacy to Kitsap Superior Court, Position 7. - Photo courtesy of Karen Klein
Bainbridge Island attorney Karen Klein has announced her candidacy to Kitsap Superior Court, Position 7.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Karen Klein

Attorney Karen Klein, a Bainbridge Island resident and CEO of Silver Planet, has announced her candidacy for Kitsap County Superior Court, Position 7.

"I have wanted to serve the community as a judge for many years," Klein said Monday.

"I've always been committed to social justice," she said. "This is another way for me to continue that service from a different platform and help shape justice."

Klein registered as a candidate in the race last week.

She joins Jennifer Forbes of Poulsbo, an attorney and former prosecutor, who is also running to fill the position now held by Superior Court Judge M. Karlynn Haberly.

Haberly, who has served in Position 7 since its creation in 1993, announced in late March that she would not seek re-election.

Klein said her work at Silver Planet, a small, Bainbridge Island-based business that helps baby boomers manage their families' health care, gave her a special perspective on entering the race.

"I decided it's time for me to run," Klein said.

"You look around and you can't wait. I think if you want something to happen, you need to go after it yourself and not wait for other people," she said.

Klein's legal career spans 30 years, and includes work in private practice, as a law school instructor at the University of Washington, and service as a Pro Tem Judge in Kitsap courts.

Early in her law career, she was a criminal defense attorney, and she has tried more than 75 felony jury trials. She also practiced employment law, and became general counsel for Topics Entertainment, the largest privately held consumer software company in the country.

Klein has been a Bainbridge Island resident since 1984. She took over as general counsel for Silver Planet in 2007, and also became the company's CEO in fall 2009.

"I think what separates me from my opponent is my breadth and depth of experience, both in the law and in the community," she said.

While a judge can only rule based on the facts and the law, Klein said she wants everyone who has been in her courtroom to leave feeling as if they have been heard.

"It helps when you have experience, to be able to understand what you're hearing," she said.

Klein, 54, graduated from Boston University School of Law and also earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan.

Her community service includes volunteering with boards throughout Kitsap County for more than 20 years, including the YWCA of Kitsap County and the Bainbridge Island Health Housing & Human Services Council. She also volunteers with the Rolling Readers at Suquamish Elementary School.

Klein and her husband John van den Meerendonk have a son, Ryan, who attends the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Her growing list of endorsements so far include Faith Ireland, a retired Washington State Supreme Court Justice, and Bainbridge Islanders such as Mayor Debbi Lester, Scott Lindquist, Patricia and Charlie Bell and Ross Boundy.

"I'm very excited. I've been really overwhelmed with the community support," Klein said.

Forbes is the only other declared candidate in the Position 7 race, though William Houser of Poulsbo has filed as a candidate for Kitsap Superior Court judge but has not declared which position he is seeking. Kevin Hull of Port Orchard is running for Position 6.

Forbes, 40, has also served as a pro tem, in three municipal courts and district court.

Forbes graduated from Whitman College with a bachelor's degree in 1993, and earned her law degree from Seattle University School of Law in 1996, graduating cum laude.

She is married to Rob Forbes, the former chief of police for Bremerton.

Forbes has picked up notable endorsements since she announced her candidacy two weeks ago.

Haberly has given Forbes her endorsement, as has Judge Kate Carruthers of Bainbridge Island Muncipal Court, Judge Tarry Decker of Port Orchard Municipal Court, and Judge James Docter of Bremerton Municipal Court.


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