Former Wallowa County District attorney Mona Williams says she is through with politics. She went down in defeat to Wes Williams Nov. 6 in a very tight race for Judge of the Circuit Court, 10th district.
The court oversees legal issues in Wallowa and Union counties. Mona came up on the short end of a 7,750-6,941 tally.
The former Wallowa County DA had retired when she applied for and received an appointment to the 10th District bench by Gov. Kate Brown on May 21.
The appointment came with a down size. Brown performed poorly in the two counties in her bid for re-election. Williams said voters she encountered campaigning door-to-door told her she wouldn’t get their vote for that reason.
Other uphill battles for Williams, who lives in Joseph, included campaigning in a county where she does not reside. She said that she had some influential support from such Union County legal stalwarts as former circuit court judges Russell. B. West and Eric Valentine.
“I just knew a lot of people and had done work in Union County,” she said.
Williams also noted her opponent started campaigning for the seat immediately after West’s retirement. Wes Williams also applied to the governor for the appointment.
“I was behind, and I had a job to do, and I was working,” she said. Williams said she worked 12-hour days, which severely curtailed her ability to wrangle voters.
A dust-up over a photo she had posted herself on social media in judicial robes while sitting on the bench in Umatilla County drew fire. Opponents claimed that the photo constituted a violation of the judicial rules of conduct related to the use of court staff and facilities.
A judicial fitness complaint was also filed against her. She noted that Wes Williams had posted a photo of himself with the Wallowa County Courthouse in the background after he applied to fill West’s position.
“I don’t see the difference between posting a picture of that facility and me posting a picture of me as a visiting judge, being the use of a court facility,” she said. “It just isn’t. I don’t see that I did anything wrong, and I will answer the complaint that way.”
Williams said she ran on her experience and commitment to both residents of both counties, She bought a second home in Union County for that reason.
“I had intended to commit to those citizens,” she said. “It was a close race, and I had a lot of people that supported me and voted for me.”
Williams counted her husband, Bill, as her biggest fan. He also served as her campaign manager. She also said Cathy Johnson did a great job as campaign treasurer and also mentioned attorneys David Baum and Cory Larvik for their support.
La Grande attorney Rick Dahl and Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel filmed a video segment supporting her candidacy.
“They were all very helpful,” she said.
If given the opportunity for a do-over, Williams said she would concentrate more on Wallowa County voters.
“I think I took it for granted, and I needed to spend more time here,” she said. “It was closer than I think it should have been.”
Would she consider running for public office again? “Probably not,” she answered. She continues to strive to make a difference in the community.
“There’s a lot of things of importance in Wallowa County that I think I can do without being involved in politics,” she said.
Grant writing holds interest for Williams as does acting as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, a person who advocates for abused or neglected children.
“We need more people involved in CASA,” she said. She also has a personal investment in Helping Hearts, a child abuse assessment center.