Letter: Congrats to judges on jobs well done

Editor,

Judge Alan Hancock’s decision to retire at the end of this year heralds the end of a truly remarkable career as a superior court judge in this state. And, it presents a challenging moment for Island County residents because filling those robes with the right person is a very important decision.

Remarkably, after being elected to the bench in 1988, Judge Hancock ran for the judgeship unopposed for seven more consecutive terms. At the end of this year, he will have served 32 years as a superior court judge in this county and is the longest serving superior court judge in the state. I am truly inspired by Judge Hancock’s service to this community and his career-long efforts to promote the cause of justice, uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all citizens.

Our county has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from the wisdom and experience of both Judge Vickie Churchill and Judge Hancock for many, many years. Now that they have both decided to retire at the end of this year, we face an interesting and important challenge to fill the void that they will leave behind.

I will be filing to be a candidate for Judge Hancock’s superior court judgeship position when the filing date arrives in May. Although I initially indicated that I would be running for Judge Churchill’s position after she previously announced that she was retiring, I would instead, like to be considered as a successor to Judge Hancock. I am doing so with the hope that I can serve this county with the same commitment to fairness and focus on the rule of law that he personified during his tenure on the bench.

Additionally, I would like to continue a “judicial legacy” that began many years ago. Judge Hancock and I worked together prior to the date of his first election to the superior court. He and I were attorneys working at the law firm of Zylstra, Beeksma, Waller and Skinner at that time. That law firm was previously known in the 1960s as Patrick, Zylstra and Pitt.

Many Oak Harbor residents may remember that Judge Howard Patrick was the first Island County Superior Court judge elevated to the bench after Island County was no longer included as part of a judicial district combined with Skagit County.

Not long after Judge Patrick became judge, Richard Pitt was appointed to serve after Island County was allotted a second superior court judge position due to our increased population. Upon Judge Patrick’s retirement at the end of 1987, Judge Hancock left our firm and was elected to the superior court in 1988. I acquired sole ownership of that same law firm in 2011 and I would like to continue that legacy.

I am very grateful for the exemplary service that has been provided by Judges Hancock and Churchill to the citizens of Island County and to those lawyers who appear in their courts.

We have been so very fortunate to have benefited from the exceptional character, wisdom and knowledge that these two judges have provided to our county for so many years.

I realize that following in Judge Hancock’s footsteps will be a daunting task at times. But I sincerely believe that I can provide this county with a level of experience, knowledge and integrity as a superior court judge that will not disappoint.

To Judges Hancock and Churchill — congratulations to you both for a job well done; and thank you for your exemplary service to our judicial system.

Christon Skinner

Oak Harbor

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