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Five vying for seat on Superior Court

With the withdrawl of Kitsap County attorney Ron Ness from the race following a recent DUI arrest, there are now five candidates are vying for the newly created Kitsap County Superior Court judgeship.

According to a source in Gov. Gary Locke’s office, five names are under consideration. Bainbridge Island attorneys Karen Kline and Sally Olsen are in the running, as are Port Orchard attorneys Anthony Otto and Steve Dixon.

Additionally, Tarrell Decker is looking to move up from her position on the Port Orchard Municipal Court, where she is the sole judge.

The interviewing process, conducted by Gov. Gary Locke and his legal counsel Jennifer Joly, is currently under way. Plans call for an announcement early next month followed by a Dec. 21 swearing in.

Locke leaves office Jan. 12.

Ted Spearman, appointed to the court last spring, was the first Bainbridge Island resident to join the bench in some time. That two Bainbridge attorneys are now running for the post is something Olsen calls “a coincidence.”

Ness, who was edged out by Spearman, was hoping his familiarity would give him an edge this time around.

Olsen, 47, was the last of the candidates to express interest in the position. She shares a law partnership with her husband, Steven, who also sought the Spearman seat.

Sally Olsen said she was seeking the judge’s position out of a desire to help people, and that her work on a pro tem court prepared her for the job.

“I would be paid for something that I’m already doing for free,” she said.

The seven-member bench now has four men and three women, so naming a woman to the new position would even things up. But this may not be an important distinction.

If Decker is selected, Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel would name a permanent replacement since the municipal judgeship is an appointed position.

Kitsap County judges, however, run for re-election in presidential election years.

The appointed judge would be required to run for the completion of the term in 2005.

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