With just a week until the ballots are counted, two judicial candidates vying for a seat on the Deschutes County District Court squared off in a public forum Tuesday afternoon at Central Oregon Community College.

Candidates Randy Miller and Thomas Spear touted their extensive experience in law in Central Oregon.

Miller is an attorney endorsed by several elected officials including Deschutes County commissioners, local mayors and the Crime Victims United of Oregon. "I care about people, and I care about service," Miller said to the audience of about 70. Miller said he specializes in representing civil litigation -- --the kind of cases judges handle most of the time. "That's my bread and butter," he said in an interview with NewsChannel 21. "And since we elected two prosecutors in the last two elections, and it's been some time since we elected someone with civil litigation experience, I think I'm the better candidate in this election at this time." But Spear says Deschutes County needs the experience of a lawyer who's been in jury trials. "If I'm elected circuit court judge I"ll get you access to justice quicker," he told the crowd. Spear said he spent more than a decade as a deputy district attorney -- he also already has experience as a judge. "I also sat as a circuit court judge pro tem for seven years, so I've been in that position, making decisions in difficult situations," Spear said. Both candidates say they're ready to bring change to the bench. "I'd love to see some kind of veterans' court," Miller said. "What I'm really saying is I'd like to see the court bring those qualified veterans all the way home."

Spear also expressed interest in developing a veteran's court. He said he also hopes to expand other programs like specialty courts for domestic violence and mental health cases. "What I'd like to bring is a certain kind of efficiency," Spear said. "We can shrink the lead time from when the case is filed to when it's adjudicated, and that's critically important, that's when justice is served." Now with a week left until ballots are counted, they wait for you to be the judge.

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 20th. Don't mail them too late, as postmarks won't count.

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