El Dorado County Judge candidates make their cases

Thomas Frey
Mountain Democrat
Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County (far left) moderates the April 28 forum of El Dorado County Superior judge candidates Gary Slossberg (center) and Lesley Gomes Barlow at Placerville Town Hall.

Two candidates in a race to be an El Dorado County Superior Court judge told voters at an April 28 forum why they should be elected to the Office 7 seat.

Vying for that seat are Gary Slossberg and Lesley Gomes Barlow.

Barlow has been practicing law for more than 20 years and has worked as a deputy county attorney for El Dorado County and currently serves as such in Amador. She lives in Placerville. Slossberg has been in the law field 17 years, 7 of those in El Dorado County, including serving as a family law facilitator and superior court commissioner. He is a resident of Folsom.

The county’s next judge will be decided at the polls June 7.

“I know we both share a long-term commitment to El Dorado County and desire to do all we can for the residents,” Slossberg said.

The pair gave opening and closing statements and in between answered several questions thrown their way by Eileen Burke-Trent, chapter president of the League of Women Voters of El Dorado County. The league held the non-partisan forum in person at Placerville Town Hall and also streamed a live video of the event on Facebook.

Burke-Trent asked the candidates about their experience with people from different social, economic and political backgrounds.

Barlow spoke about spending two summers on a church mission in Tijuana, Mexico. She said the mission involved families who built their homes out of garbage.

“You’re faced directly with what it is like for someone else in another country who doesn’t have the same resources you have. They’re put in very difficult circumstances,” Barlow said. “I just wanted to pray with those people, care about those people and understand their circumstances and life.”

Slossberg said while he didn’t come from a wealthy family, they weren’t worried about where the next meal was coming from.

“I started my legal career in Los Angeles as a legal services attorney and the clients I served didn’t have that experience,” Slossberg said. “They had issues affording rent month to month and making sure they could feed their children. That certainly was an experience of dealing with people who had a different upbringing than I had and I built bridges and connections with them.”

Then the candidates were asked to tell the audience why they chose a career in law.

“I wanted to help out children in crisis,” Slossberg said. “It’s nice the way my career developed. I’m dealing with the juvenile dependency and delinquency system so I get to assist kids who are in crisis.”

His opponent was also driven to help youth.

“Ultimately when I found my way to civil service with the county, I fell in love with child welfare,” Barlow said. “And that’s when the light went on. Being in the courtroom is something I fell in love with.”

She said she learned a valuable lesson in the courtroom that will hold true if she is elected.

“You can’t make assumptions about things and you can’t assume that you know something,” Barlow said. “You always have to be asking the right questions and you have to be thorough in your inquiries.”

One of the more difficult questions of the night, Burke-Trent asked the candidates how they differ from their opponent.

They spoke of their own experience.

Slossberg told of how his current role as superior court commissioner wouldn’t be too much of a transition.

“As a court commissioner I do the job essentially of the judge right now,” Slossberg said. “There’s not too many differences. I’ve made orders in every type of case in this county aside from maybe one or two. There’s no learning curve. I’m ready to go on day one.”

Barlow spoke about how her experience in the courtroom as an advocate and practitioner has given her a unique point of view.

“I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work,” Barlow said. “I’ve been in front of so many judges who I’ve learned from and that’s something I think will help me be a good judge.”

Watch a video of the forum online at

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