REDMOND, Ore. -

Two candidates for Deschutes County Circuit Judge Position 5 faced off Monday night in a question-and-answer forum at a Redmond Patriots meeting.

The two each were given 10 minutes to talk about their past and why they decided to run for the position.

Randy Miller, who is running for the first time, is a Marine who fought in Operation Desert Storm and in Somalia. The 43-year old told the crowd the experience is something he says taught him how to work in a team.

Miller says he's running for the position being vacated by Judge Barbara Haslinger, because now is the right time.

"I want to serve others, and I want to be a part of making our country great," Miller said.

Miller also worked as a police officer in Sunriver for a year. Miller told the group, through the G.I. Bill, he then decided to go to college. He started school at Central Oregon Community College, then moved on to Linfield in McMinnville, where he got a Bachelor's of Science in business management.

Miller then became an internal auditor for Les Schwab Tires, before going to law school at Willamette University.

"I was recruited out of school to go to a large law firm called Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt," Miller said.

At the firm, he specialized in civil litigation.

Thomas Spear, meanwhile, has focused on the criminal side of the law. He was appointed in 2007 by the Oregon Supreme Court to serve as a judge pro tem, and he presided part-time in Deschutes County Circuit Court.

The trial lawyer says he went to college at Santa Clara University, where he studied chemistry. After college he became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. For five years, Spears says he worked aboard submarines.

After his time in the Navy, Spears says he went to Northwestern and studied law. He now works for Dekalb & Associates.

At the forum, both men touted their experience.

"You understand that the two judges that were elected recently have a criminal law background, as does Mr. Spear," Miller said. "That is very different from mine. It doesn't mean one is less important than the other, but it is a factor to consider. We do want balance on the bench."

"Do you want to pick that one doctor that's only had one surgery?" Spear said. "Or even that auto mechanic that's only fixed that type of car you have one time? I would hope not. You would want somebody that actually has the experience as a circuit court judge, somebody who spends every day in court."

Ballots will be counted on May 20th. The winner will serve a four-year term that will begin on Jan. 1.