WENATCHEE — Attorneys practicing in Chelan and Douglas counties prefer candidates Travis Brandt and Alicia H. Nakata in the race for Chelan County Superior Court judge, according to a bar association survey.
The Chelan-Douglas County Bar Association polled its 211 member lawyers, asking them to check boxes for each judicial candidate marked “qualified,” “not qualified” or “no opinion.” Another set of boxes asked lawyers to rank the candidates by order of preference. The surveys were filled out by 124 attorneys.
Brandt earned the most rankings of favor, with 50 attorneys naming him their first choice for judge. He was also the favorite second-place choice, at 35.
But Nakata and Esparza also drew high numbers of fourth-place rankings — 39 and 41 respectively. Steinberg, a sole practitioner, gained the most third-place votes: 47.
Nakata earned 83 out of a total 259 “qualified” votes cast. Brandt, a general-practice attorney, drew 80 votes. Steinberg and Esparza earned 64 and 32 “qualified” votes respectively.
In the “not qualified” category, Esparza, staff lawyer for the Northwest Justice Project, received 53 of 111 votes cast, with Nakata marked unqualified 29 times. Steinberg and Brandt notched 18 and 11 votes questioning their qualifications.
The four candidates seek to replace Superior Court Judge John Bridges, retiring at the end of the year. The top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the Nov. 6 general election; if any one candidate nets more than 50 percent of the primary vote, he or she will take office in January.
The poll lent support to incumbent Court of Appeal Division III Judge Teresa Kulik of Wenatchee, challenged in the primary by Wenatchee lawyer Devin Poulson. Kulik earned 103 qualified votes and no unqualified votes. Poulson was named qualified by 40 lawyers, unqualified by 29, and ranked overwhelmingly as the second choice for the seat, with 57 votes to Kulik’s 21.
Local lawyers also supported incumbents in the statewide Supreme Court races. Sitting justices Susan Owens and Steve Gonzalez earned top marks, while former Justice Richard Sanders, voted off the court in 2011, was preferred by Chelan-Douglas attorneys over three other contenders for the open seat left by Justice Tom Chambers.
Primary ballots will be mailed to registered voters Thursday, and must be returned to the Chelan County Auditor’s office by Aug. 7.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123