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Island County to interview candidates for district court judge replacement

The Island County commissioners will publicly interview seven candidates next week to replace District Court Judge Peter Strow.

Strow, who has held the bench since 1997, recently announced that he will be retiring at the end of March. The non-partisan position carries a four-year term and Strow was last elected in November of 2010.

The job pays $141,710 a year, a sum set by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.

Because Strow is stepping down mid-term, his replacement must be appointed by the commissioners. The candidates who applied for the vacancy will be publicly interviewed at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the commissioners hearing room, 1 N.E. Sixth St. in Coupeville.

In alphabetical order, the applicants include: Sara Andrews, Coupeville; Christopher Gibson, Langley; Mark Hanley, Coupeville; Bill Hawkins, Coupeville; Linda Kipling, Clinton; Laurie Magan, Pasco, Wash.; and Eric Ohme, Coupeville.

According to her resume, Andrews has been practicing law on Whidbey Island since 2001, but has spent the past 10 years managing her own practice in Oak Harbor, representing clients in criminal, juvenile offender, dependency and family law cases.

Gibson has for 17 years been an appellate practitioner, a type of law that involves “dissecting trial court proceedings to discover mistakes that may have flawed the legal process.” He is currently the senor supervising attorney for Nielsen, Broman & Koch in Seattle, a position he has held since 1995.

Hanley is currently an attorney with Thomas Pacher Attorney at Law, Inc. in Coupeville, which holds the county’s public defense contract. He has 37 years of general practice experience, including 10 years with the county and city of Spokane as a pro-temp judge, and a combined 30 years as a city attorney.

Hawkins has been practicing law for more than 30 years. He spent 17 years in the Island County Prosecutor’s Office – seven of which were as the elected prosecutor – before leaving to spend the next 10 years in private practice. He is currently a pro-tem judge in Island County District Court.

Kipling has been practicing law for more than 25 years and has spent past nine as the Island County District Court commissioner – essentially a fill-in judge appointed by Strow. The duties include presiding over criminal and civil cases and performing administrative duties. Before that, she was a deputy prosecutor for Snohomish and Island County prosecutors’ offices – about 13 years total.

Magan has over 10 years of experience in criminal and civil law. She is currently an associate attorney with Bolliger Law Offices in Pasco and has worked as a judge pro-tempore for the areas municipal court since 2010. She is planning to move to Whidbey Island soon.

Finally, Ohme is the senior deputy prosecuting attorney in Island County and brings to the table about 15 years of experience. He joined the prosecutor’s office in 2003, having spent about four years before that with a private firm in Tacoma.

The process for selecting Strow’s replacement will see all seven candidates publicly interviewed by the commissioners. According to Elaine Marlow, each will have a few minutes for an introduction before answering questions from the board.

Once all the candidates have been interviewed, the commissioners will retire to executive session. The board can then make a decision or elect to continue the interview process later, she said.

 

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