Kingston attorney the latest to declare for judge

Jeanette Dalton is the third candidate to announce an intention to replace Superior Court Judge Leonard Costello. - Charlie Bermant
Jeanette Dalton is the third candidate to announce an intention to replace Superior Court Judge Leonard Costello.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

The contest to replace retiring Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Leonard Costello now has three candidates, guaranteeing one will be eliminated in the nonpartisan August primary and that the two top vote-getters will face each other in November.

Kingston attorney Jeanette Dalton was the latest to declare her intention to run for the seat, joining Gregory Wall and Bruce Danielson, both of Port Orchard.

Danielson, who had previously announced his intention to run for the court but did not specify a position, said last week he would seek Costello’s seat.

Costello, 60, is the only incumbent Superior Court judge not running for another term. All eight judges are elected at the same time, simultaneous to presidential and gubernatorial contests.

Dalton, 53, said she has the broadest experience of all the declared candidates, having worked as a prosecutor, defense attorney and pro tem judge. She has lived in Kitsap County since 1991. She is married with no children.

“I think that a good judge needs to have lived through both sides of the criminal experience,” she said. “If you haven’t prosecuted a case and wept along with the victims of a crime, then your ex- perience is incomplete.

“If you have a doctor that has never done surgery, you wouldn’t want him to cut you open,” she said. “It’s the same thing with a judge. You don’t want them to learn about criminal law while they are on the job, since it is time-consuming and they can make mistakes.”

Aside from increasing programs such as drug court, Dalton said she hoped to modernize the local courtrooms.

“There is a lot of available technology that could make our local courts more efficient,” she said. “Scanning all documents can make them more available for all parties. Teleconferencing can eliminate the need for an attorney to be at a meeting, and it can provide a better record because everything is on tape.”

Dalton said she will “bring sanity into the process of criminal justice,” saying that she “has the required experience, and I have been in the trenches.”

Both Dalton and Wall said they expected to get the endorsement of the Kitsap Bar Association, and that such support will be important for voters.

Said Dalton, “When non-lawyers are unsure about who to support as a judge, they will call their family attorneys for an opinion as to who is a good lawyer.

Danielson, said he is not seeking support from the local bar association, that it was “like players voting on a referee.”

He has already received the endorsement of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Guild, Kitsap Association of Realtors, Bremerton Police Management Association, and Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Sanders.

Danielson has previously been identified with Republican causes, while Wall has worked with Democrats. Dalton said she is not affiliated with either party.

After a salary boost scheduled for September, Superior Court judges will earn $148,000 a year.

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