* Race percentages are calculated with data from the Secretary of State's Office, which omits write-in votes from its calculations when there are too few to affect the outcome. The Spokane County Auditor's Office may have slightly different percentages than are reflected here because its figures include any write-in votes.
About The Race
Longtime Judge Greg Sypolt will defend his seat against Tim Fennessy, a civil attorney who’s handled cases such as business law, medical malpractice and personal injury.
Sypolt was first appointed to the bench in 1996 and has run uncontested in every year since, except 2004. Before appointment, he worked in the Spokane County Public Defender’s office. Since 2014 he has handled initial criminal appearances and arraignments, though he expects to go back to handling trials in 2017 if re-elected.
He said his work to expand access to the court system for people with disabilities and people representing themselves in family law cases show his commitment to justice for everyone.
Fennessy unsuccessfully sought appointment to the court last fall. He’s had a diverse civil law practice at various Spokane firms for 30 years. He contends his experience in civil cases is needed on the court, and that judges should be elected by citizens, not appointed mid-term.
Sypolt has endorsements from every other judge on the Superior Court bench, as well as seven state Supreme Court justices, prosecutor Larry Haskell and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
Fennessy has endorsements from a number of civil and criminal attorneys in Spokane, retired District Court Judge Sara Derr and some business leaders.
Both candidates were rated well-qualified by the Spokane County Bar Association.
- Spokane, WA
Education: Graduated Libby Senior High School 1975 in Libby, Montana. Earned bachelor’s in political science from Gonzaga, 1979. Earned law degree from Gonzaga Law School in 1983.
Professional experience: Has worked in civil law at a number of Spokane firms since 1983, practicing on issues of medical malpractice, construction law, personal injury claims, water rights, eminent domain and insurance defense. Has worked at at Layman Law Firm PLLP since 2010 and was named a partner in 2014.
Political experience: Has never run for or sought appointment to a government office.
Family: Married. Has two adult children
- Spokane Valley, WA
Education: Graduated Monessen High School in Monessen, Pennsylvania in 1967. Earned bachelor’s in political science from Washington and Jefferson College in 1971. Earned law degree from Gonzaga Law School in 1976.
Professional experience: Appointed to Spokane County Superior Court in 1996, serving as presiding judge, juvenile court judge, family law judge and more. Currently works as chief criminal judge. Worked as a trial lawyer for the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office from 1979 until appointment. Previously worked part-time in private practice.
Political experience: Has run unopposed for superior court seat in every election since 1996 other than in 2004, when he defeated Michael D. Elston with 55 percent of the vote. Ran unsuccessfully for Spokane County District Court in 1984 and unsuccessfully sought appointment to district court in 1985 and Superior Court in 1995.
Family: Married. Has three stepchildren.
While it may be difficult to be called a rookie at age 59, Tim Fennessy said his fellow judges have gone overboard make his transition easier to the Spokane County Superior Court bench.
All four candidates involved in close races in Spokane County picked up more votes in Wednesday’s second count of ballots, but no one was able to make enough of a gain to change the outcome.
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.
A Spokane County Superior Court judge who’s been on the bench for more than 20 years faces a challenge from an experienced civil attorney who thinks the county’s highest court needs new perspective. Judge Greg Sypolt, who was appointed in 1996, is running against Tim Fennessy, who believes the court would benefit from having more judges with civil case experience.