There may be a new judge on the Spokane County Superior Court bench.
Early election results Tuesday night showed Judge Greg Sypolt, who’s been in office since 1996, losing to challenger Tim Fennessy, a civil attorney. Judge Linda Tompkins held on to her seat by a comfortable margin against challenger Ward Andrews.
Fennessy had 66,438 votes, or 54 percent of total ballots cast. But with 25,993 votes remaining to be counted, the race could still go either way.
Fennessy is a civil attorney who said the bench would benefit from more judges with civil experience. He also said he believes judges should be elected rather than appointed and pledged not to retire mid-term. Sypolt, who’s served as chief criminal judge for the past three years, said he’d earned another term based on a proven track record of advocating for criminal justice reform.
Tompkins was appointed to the bench in 1997 and has been re-elected every year since. She had 62 percent of the vote Tuesday night and will hold her seat even if Andrews gets every uncounted ballot.
Andrews is a civil attorney who works as in-house counsel for an insurance company. He said he chose to run against Tompkins because a large number of lawyers requested to change judges when assigned to her court, though he offered no theory on why.
Tompkins questioned Andrews’ qualifications for the job given his decision not to submit to a public evaluation by the Spokane County Bar Association.