Rodriguez wins judge election

Former prosecutor will serve on San Benito County Superior Court bench

Omar Rodriguez

Jose “Omar” Rodriguez decisively won the San Benito County Superior Court Judge No. 2 election Nov. 6. He will occupy the judge’s seat formerly occupied by longtime Judge Harry Tobias, who will retire at the end of this year after serving on the bench since 1993.

Rodriguez, who currently works as an assistant county counsel for Santa Cruz County, gained 5,654, or about 55 percent of the votes cast in the Nov. 6 election, according to the San Benito County Registrar of Voters Office. He beat Hollister criminal defense attorney Gregory LaForge, who received 4,596 votes, or about 45 percent of the ballots cast Nov. 6.

Rodriguez, 37, is a Hollister native and San Benito High School alumnus. He is the son of field workers who met in Gilroy, and is married with a 2-year-old son. He attended Gavilan College after high school, and earned his bachelor’s and law degree from UC Berkeley.

During the campaign leading up to the Nov. 6 election, Rodriguez said as judge, he would promote efforts to speed up the sluggish pace of the local court calendars. He also said he would try to implement new programs such as court-directed mediation for civil litigation, easier electronic access to cases and improvements to the court’s self-help services.

Before joining the Santa Cruz County office, Rodriguez worked in the San Benito County District Attorney’s Office, and then practiced civil law for a number of years.

LaForge, 57, has practiced law in San Benito County for about 30 years. He has worked in the district attorney’s office as a prosecutor, then as a private practitioner. His firm currently contracts with the court for public defender services.