Voters decide rare challenge to incumbent

Judge Katherine Stolz, left, and Tim Ashcraft
Judge Katherine Stolz, left, and Tim Ashcraft

The only sitting Pierce County Superior Court judge to be challenged this election was losing her spot on the bench after early returns Tuesday night, and clear front-runners emerged in several other races to replace retiring judges.

Civil litigation attorney Tim Ashcraft had a small lead over Judge Katherine Stolz, who has held the seat for 16 years.

The court’s other 18 judges who were up for re-election didn’t appear on the ballot because their seats were secured when they ran unopposed.

Also from the civil bar, attorney Shelly Speir seemed poised to take over for retiring Judge Vicki Hogan, as Industrial Appeals Judge Dominique Jinhong trailed considerably.

Municipal court judge and former prosecutor Grant Blinn appeared set to make the move to Superior Court to replace retired Judge Brian Tollefson. Meanwhile, attorney Dwayne Christopher, Blinn’s opponent and Tollefson’s former judicial assistant, fell behind.

In one of the closer races, Superior Court Commissioner Karena Kirkendoll was slightly ahead of attorney Tom Quinlan to take over for retiring Judge Ronald Culpepper.

Staff writer Kenny Ocker contributed to this report.

Alexis Krell: