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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee's Judicial Appointees Virtually Unopposed On Ballot

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

The Washington Supreme Court has its first openly-gay, Asian-American, Latina justice. Former King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu was sworn-in Tuesday.

Yu will run in November to finish out the term of retiring Justice Jim Johnson.

After taking the oath in Washington’s Temple of Justice, Yu expressed some relief that she won’t face an opponent in the fall election.

“I would like to believe that it’s because I’m a trial-court judge with 14 years of experience that people would say ‘You know what? This is a legitimate person who maybe deserves an opportunity,’” she said.

Another factor may have been the short timeline between Yu’s appointment by Governor Jay Inslee and the deadline for candidates to file for office. Court-watcher Alex Hayes views the lack of a candidate to challenge Yu as a missed opportunity.

“Generally the opportunity to challenge an appointed judge is at that moment that they were appointed and in two years Judge Yu will frankly be more difficult to defeat at the ballot box than she is today.”

Hayes helped elect Justice Jim Johnson who was widely viewed as the lone conservative on the Washington Supreme Court.

Nineteen of Governor Inslee’s appointments to the bench are on the ballot this fall, but only one faces a challenger.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."