After nearly nine years of being an attorney, Sixes resident Shala McKenzie Kudlac is ready to take the next step — challenging incumbent Cindi Beaman for the Circuit Court Judge seat in the May 20 election.
“It is time to take the next step towards assisting individuals and the community from a higher level,” Kudlac said.
“As judge I can reach more people and be a positive influence on this area ... I think a judge should be active in the community and lead by example without ever using their position as judge beyond the bench.”
Kudlac, 34, and her husband Grant have one son. They live on a ranch in the Sixes area in northern Curry County. Shala has lived in Curry County all her life, except for the years she went to college.
She returned from college in 2005 to begin her legal practice at Carleton Law Offices in Bandon.
Her practice includes a variety of law, including estate planning, probate, land use, real estate, construction and contract litigation, family law, landlord/tenant and representation of municipalities. She also provides guidance to various non-profits, agricultural entities and businesses.
Kudlac acknowledged the challenge of running against an incumbent.
“I do not think there is enough focus in this race put on the individual person and their character. It is a complaint I have heard as I meet people,” she said.
“People care more about who they are voting for and less about their experience,” she said.
A closer look
•What frustrates you the most and why?
“Unfortunately I don’t think I can answer this and remain in conformance with campaign rules.”
•What is the toughest decision you have had to make?
“I think we all make tough personal decisions. We decide where to live, what kind of occupation to enter into and what kind of medical procedures to undertake, all of which are very personal. In my career, running for judge was the most difficult decision I have had to make. It was a task I undertook with a great deal of thought and concern for my family, my career and my community. It was not an easy one because I knew it would very likely be unpopular running against an incumbent, at least in the legal community. But it was a task I undertook with a great deal of support from mentors, major employers in our communities, family and community leaders. Since running I have been greeted time and time again by people thanking me for stepping up.”
•What are your outside activities, hobbies and interests?
“Having a four year old, we are always on the go. We have a small farm which we raise cattle on and any chance we get we are outside. Working on our property is my hobby and my family consumes most of my spare time, as it should. My weekends involve bike rides, sandbox time and fixing fence depending upon the season. I serve on a community review board which oversees the process in which children in the foster system go through. Serving on this board has been very rewarding and makes me appreciate that we have such a caring community and people who so often step in to help these kids.”
•How would you describe yourself? How would your peers describe you?
“I think I would describe myself as a compassionate realist and my peers would support that. I have always had a common sense approach to life and I bring that to my work. I tend to look at the big picture when it comes to my clients and how they can move on from the legal issues they face with the most equitable result I can bring them. I think my peers would also say that I keep a fair perspective and work towards resolving problems rather than exacerbating issues with unnecessary hurdles.”
•What are your standards for success in your job and your life?
“As an attorney I set my standards based upon the satisfaction of my clients. Clients do not always like what their attorneys have to say. Sometimes we deliver very bad news, and generally speaking clients to not come to me during the happiest times of their lives. They have suffered a death in the family, are going through a divorce, or a stressful legal battle of some other kind. It is my job to guide them through that process and though they may like or dislike the answers, at the end they know they received good sound advice. They also know they were listened to, understood and sympathized with. The very best days are when you get those heartfelt thank you notes from those you helped guide.”
•If you could start your legal career over, what would you do differently?
“I have enjoyed my legal career and will continue to do so regardless of the outcome on May 20th. I don’t know that I would do anything differently.
•If not an attorney, what other job or career would you pursue and why?
“I would have enjoyed being a home builder. My husband and I spent a great deal of our time before our son was born assisting in building our home, which I am very proud of. There is something about the manual labor aspect of that line of work that I find very satisfying and seeing it through from beginning to end.”
•Who are your role models and why?
“The two biggest role models in my life have been my parents. I grew up on cranberry bogs and have been a part of that industry in one form or another ever since. When your livelihood revolves around elements out of your control like weather or market conditions, you get truly tested and they have always shown me diligence and ambition through their examples.”
•What do you like best about your job?
“The best part of my job is being able to assist those going through, quite likely, some of the worst times of their lives. The will and strength of people always surprises me and it encourages me in my daily life.”
•What do you hate most about your job?
“On the other hand you also see some of life’s injustices and how truly negative people can be towards one another.”
“My playground as a kid was the stretch of ground between the mouth of the Elk River and my family cranberries on Airport Road. It was a great place to grow up with all the freedom a kid could ask for. We owned and still own about 600 acres of ground that made for great four-wheeling adventures, and running paths during sports seasons. I spent a summer running an excavator for my family, clearing land for new bogs which was fun, but I determined after that to go to school and bring home a skill that I could put to work in Curry County. So I did. I went to the University of Oregon and then on to Willamette University for my law degree.