From left: Van Dyke, Kreis, Watson.

This year’s race for Humboldt Superior Court judge has been the most contentious in living memory.

Last night, April Van Dyke, who is challenging incumbent Greg Kreis, released a video on her Instagram account to discuss her partial facial paralysis, which she says she has had since childhood. Van Dyke said she was moved to record the statement in response to online commentary on the subject — according to the candidate, this has ranged from the notion that her campaign photos show her smirking at justice to hints that she has suffered a debilitating stroke.

Neither of those things are true, Van Dyke said in her video, which generally urged people not to focus so much on the physical attributes of others. Watch the video below:

Meanwhile,  in the wake of a state judicial ethics commission’s accusations against Kreis, Deputy District Attorney Jessica Watson has launched a write-in campaign for the seat. A statement sent out over the weekend said that the action against Kreis, which was filed after the deadline to get on the ballot, compelled her to offer voters an alternative.

Why is Van Dyke not an alternative? “I feel as though I’m in a better position to serve this community,” Watson told the Outpost yesterday. She cited her roots in the community — she first moved her to attend Humboldt State 20 years ago, whereas Van Dyke has lived here only since 2019 — and the fact that as an attorney she has worked on all sides of the bench: civil cases, criminal prosecution, criminal defense.

Does a write-in candidate have a realistic chance? “I’m definitely gonna try,” Watson said. “I only have about two and a half weeks to do it, but I’m going to do as much as I can.”

Here’s Watson’s website. Her full statement, sent out over the weekend, can be found below.

Press release from Jessica Watson:

I am Jessica Watson, and I am asking for your support as a write-in candidate for Humboldt County Superior Court Judge. There is some speculation about why I entered the race as a write-in candidate. There seems to be an unspoken expectation that we’ll vote for an incumbent judge. However, with the Judicial Council’s recent release of alleged ethical violations against the incumbent, I can no longer adhere to the unspoken expectation. Sadly, this information became available after ballots were printed and mailed. Nonetheless, these allegations are so significant and numerous that they require action.

This is our community, yours and mine. Judges are entrusted with decisions that fundamentally affect our lives and prosperity. Those who have been before a judge in any capacity understand how vital it is to have no appearance of impropriety. We trust that there is nothing guiding judicial decisions other than the facts and the law. When this trust is broken, then it must be repaired.

I am compelled to run as a write-in candidate because I believe we need judges who restore trust in our judicial system and work on behalf of the people with integrity and a sense of fairness.

I moved to Humboldt from the Bay Area twenty years ago, to attend Humboldt State University. My husband is also an HSU graduate. (Go Lumberjacks!) I have dedicated my legal career to improving the lives of Humboldt County residents. I have worked as a criminal defense attorney and as an attorney for a local nonprofit, Humboldt Center for Constitutional Rights. For the past ten years I have been a Deputy District Attorney, representing you with the hope of making a positive change in our community. I will continue with that endeavor.