Sound Off: District court is the community’s court


I would like to introduce myself to our community. My name is Ronald A. Costeck, your new judge. On May 30, I was sworn in by Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff as Island County’s newest District and City of Oak Harbor Municipal Court judge.

I cannot express how honored and appreciative I am. It is my fundamental belief that we do not achieve or accomplish anything without the assistance of good people, whether at work or in our personal lives. I am here because of the unanimous decision of Island County’s Commissioners. The strong support and endorsements I received from both Superior Court judges and other judicial officers from Whatcom to Skagit County. I am appreciative of the received support from the head of law enforcement, from North to the South End of Island County. Moreover, the overwhelming support of the legal community, court staff, members of the community as well as friends and family.

I recognize that many residents of Island County are transplants from somewhere else, as I am. However, I do not feel this way. I have been practicing in Island County’s legal community for nearly 20 years. I have lived in the Stanwood-Camano area for a similar period of time. I relocated to Whidbey Island six years ago when I was appointed as the Island County District and City of Oak Harbor Municipal Court Commissioner. My young daughter knows no other community. In short, I feel a strong connection with Island County.

I am impressed at how varied our community is. We differ in age, economics, home state and perspectives. These shifts are often noticeable depending on which island you reside, or whether you are venturing north or south. It is a testament to our community. It is also evidence that people can work together to improve our collective lives, without being stagnated by polarization. It is what draws people to Island County and makes them want to stay.

It is my belief that our District and Municipal Court should embody these ideas. The court should listen to the community, law enforcement, attorneys and the prosecutors’ concerns for safety, reduced crime and recidivism. The court should avoid what often appears in different parts of the state, as a surrendering to the tide of problems that face modern societies. It needs to apply the law and uphold constitutional principles while balancing all perspectives. I am confident that any issue can be addressed by listening to our varied community and considering all options. Including, a therapeutic court system. Hearings designed to integrate current resources within our county in order an address addiction, mental health, homelessness, and an array of other issues contributing to recidivism.

Similarly, it is my viewpoint that the District and Municipal Court system is a community court. Specifically, that it serves our community at a level many residents need to access. I plan to further develop the District Court website to deliver quality information on the District Court’s operations. To make it clear how residents can avail themselves of our services. Services such as small claims, name changes, and petitioning for restraining orders.

In addition, I plan on fostering the Court’s relationship with Island County’s educational system. To work with anyone within the board of education that would like to bring a civic class into an actual court, for a moot trial. The best education and understanding of the magnificence and wisdom of the design of our system and nation, is often found in the practical experience.

In short, I want to honor my appointment by serving this community and delivering an open and accessible judicial system that improves the lives of our Island County community.

Ron Costeck was recently appointed to take over from District Court Judge Bill Hawkins, who retired.