Court commissioner appointed as district court judge

After two rounds of interviews followed by executive sessions, Island County commissioners appointed the current district court commissioner as the district court judge.

Ronald Costeck will ascend to the bench on June 1, taking over for District Court Judge Bill Hawkins, who is retiring at the end of this month.

During the lengthy process in which six lawyers were winnowed to four candidates, commissioners queried the lawyers on a wide range of issues, from their philosophy of dealing with staff to their attitudes about therapeutic court.

In the end, the choice of Costeck means an easy transition for the court. As Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson pointed out, Costeck has already been doing the job as a court commissioner, which is essentially a judge who is hired instead of elected.

“He understands what has to happen in that court. He is who Judge Hawkins trusted for that position,” she said.

In making the motion to appoint Costeck, Commissioner Melanie Bacon said the appointment will continue the “trajectory” of the court established by the voters. The motion to appoint Costeck passed unanimously.

The appointment will run until the general election results are certified in 2026.

The opening of the judge position drew candidates with a wide range of experience. They included two people from the prosecutor’s office, two Whidbey Island defense attorneys and a corporate lawyer with a long career with some of the top law firms in the nation.

Costek has 25 years of legal experience and has served as Island County District Court and Oak Harbor Municipal Court commissioner for six years.

Prior to that, Costeck worked a deputy prosecutor in Skagit County, a criminal defense attorney, civil defense attorney, family law attorney and judge pro tem. He also served as an adjunct professor for Temple University in Philadelphia, and, later, Lummi Tribal College, according to a county press release.