With the first batch of results tallied (18 percent of the ballots), Pierce County deputy prosecutor Jerry Costello is leading incumbent Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant in the race for the Department 7 seat on the bench.
In the other races, Stan Rumbaugh is ahead of Helen Whitener in a race for the Department 18 seat, and incumbents Stephanie Arend, Kathryn Nelson and Vicki Hogan appear to be surviving challenges.
This year’s race featured the largest field of candidates since 2004.
The county’s 22 Superior Court judges preside over felony cases, divorces and high-dollar civil disputes, among other duties. They make about $150,000 per year, with county taxpayers picking up half the tab and state taxpayers the rest.
The race for Department 7 was perhaps the most intriguing this year.
Costello declared early for the seat upon learning that incumbent Frederick Fleming planned to retire. It looked like he would be unopposed until filing week, when Grant decided to abandon her current seat in Department 18 to challenge him.
Costello raised five times as much campaign money as Grant, totaling more than $100,000, and won endorsements from his boss, Prosecutor Mark Lindquist, Sheriff Paul Pastor, County Council chairwoman Joyce McDonald and others.
At an election-night party at Lindquist’s house Tuesday night, Costello shook hands and shouted, “Drinks on the house,” when the first batch of results showed him with a sizeable lead over Grant.
He later said he was “humbled” by his election and thanked his supporters for “all their hard work” during the campaign.
“I’m thrilled to be elected,” Costello said. “I’m humbled to be able to represent the public on the bench.”
He pledged to work hard for the public, and the long-time government attorney said he wouldn’t forget he’s a public servant.
“I’ve never forgotten who I work for,” Costello said.
Staff photographer Peter Haley contributed to this report.