Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007 • Ten county officials take oath of office

“Praise the Lord! I love the view from up here,” Don Sokol said immediately after he was sworn in last week as Lassen County’s newest Superior Court judge. “It’s better than down there.”

Sokol was one of 10 county officials elected in June, who took the oath of office on Monday, Jan. 8, in the historic upstairs courtroom at the County Courthouse. While the other nine elected officials were sworn in at noon, Sokol took the oath at 4:30 p.m. Both ceremonies attracted standing-room-only crowds of spectators.

Those sworn in at noon included District Attorney Bob Burns, newly elected Clerk-Recorder Julie Bustamante, Assessor Ken Bunch, Treasurer-Tax Richard Egan, Auditor Karen Fouch, District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson, District 3 Supervisor Lloyd Keefer, Superintendent of Schools Bob Owens and Sheriff Steve Warren.

Presiding Superior Court Judge Stephen Bradbury administered the oath then Bustamante passed out certificates of election as her first official duty of office. Bradbury said the ceremonies exemplified the democratic process in reality and the power of elected government.

He also said Sokol, who took the oath on the family Bible, held by his wife Debra, was only the third judge sworn onto the bench in Lassen County in 26 years. Bradbury called the small turnover in judges a testament to the stability of the county’s courts.

Fewer than 50 percent of Lassen County’s registered voters participated in Don Sokol’s 183-vote victory over Superior Court Judge Ridgely Lazard in the primary on June 6, 2006.

Of the county’s 14,167 registered voters, only 6,855 voted. Former County Clerk Theresa Nagel, who retired effective Dec. 31, said the 48.29 percent turnout “was absolutely the worst I’ve seen.”

Nagel worked for the county for almost 38 years. Of those who cast ballots, 3,396 voted for Sokol. Lazard took 3,213.

Both candidates had to wait an extra day for the results. Nagel said there were approximately 600 absentee and provisional votes remaining to be counted on Wednesday, June 7. She finished the count and called Sokol at 5 p.m. Wednesday with the results, he said.

Sokol’s education, according to his candidate statement, “includes a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Stanford University and a B.A. degree from the University of Iowa. Important life experiences include proud service as a combat pilot, 15th Air Force, flying 24 combat missions, earning three Air Medals, extensive experience as a cattle rancher and a business professional in aviation and viticulture; important to understanding our rural culture.”

He cited 28 years of experience practicing law, 18 years in Lassen County. Sokol was recognized to practice law before the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals and the U.S. District Court of California.

“I have served on the State Bar Association Committee on Administration of Justice,” he wrote and before he was sworn in as judge, Sokol served as an administrative law judge pro tem at High Desert State Prison. He also served as chairman of the Susanville Airport Commission, and is a member of Susanville Rotary and past president of Susanville Toastmasters.

“Unquestioned integrity is my strength,” according to his candidate statement for the June election.