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Interviews begin today to replace Judge Strow

Island County District Court Judge Peter Strow attends a commissioners’ work session last year. Strow will retire next month and the board will interview candidates for his replacement today at 2 p.m. in Coupeville.  - Record file
Island County District Court Judge Peter Strow attends a commissioners’ work session last year. Strow will retire next month and the board will interview candidates for his replacement today at 2 p.m. in Coupeville.
— image credit: Record file

The Island County commissioners will publicly interview seven candidates today 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, a South Whidbey resident who presides at District Court in Oak Harbor, is stepping down mid-term, his replacement must be appointed by the commissioners. The candidates who applied for the vacancy will be publicly interviewed starting 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.

She received her degree from the Seattle University law school in 2000.

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 senior supervising attorney for Nielsen, Broman & Koch in Seattle, a position he has held since 1995.

Gibson is vice president of the South Whidbey Schools Foundation and received his law degree from the Seattle University law school in 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 in two Washington cities.

He earned his degree from Gonzaga University in 1972.

Hawkins has been practicing law for more than 30 years. He spent 17 years in the Island County Prosecutor’s Office, seven as the elected prosecutor,  before leaving to spend the next 10 years in private practice. Most recently, he was the city prosecutor and attorney for Oak Harbor.

Hakwins is currently a pro-tem judge in Island County District Court and received his degree from the University of Colorado law school in 1982.

Incidentally, while Hawkins served as the county prosecutor, he hired Strow to be his chief criminal deputy in the early 1990s before he became a district court judge.

Kipling has been practicing law for more than 25 years and has spent the 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 for about 13 years total.

She received her degree from the Ohio State University law school in 1985.

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 area’s municipal court since 2010. She is planning to move to Whidbey Island soon.

She earned her degree from the Willamette University law school in 2002.

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. He is currently prosecuting accused Greenbank murder Robert Baker for the slaying of his wife, Kathie Baker.

Ohme earned his degree from the Seattle University law school in 1998.

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 to discuss their qualifications, as allowed under state law. The board can then make a decision or elect to continue the interview process later in the week, she said.

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