Judge Alex Ekstrom was firmly leading his opponent to keep his seat on the Benton Franklin Superior Court bench after the first round of ballots were counted Tuesday.
Ekstrom had 27,506 votes, 57 percent, to Alicia Berry’s 21,108 votes, or 43 percent.
Ekstrom said he is pleased and gratified by the results.
“I’m honored to be able to continue in the position to continue to serve both counties,” he said. “I’m grateful for the support of the bench and bar and the community.”
He already was collecting campaign signs Tuesday night.
Berry said 40,000 ballots remain left to be counted and she felt the results were still close.
“It indicated that people in Benton and Franklin counties are ready for change,” she said. “I’m seeing that in all of the races. ... It’s been a pretty exciting election night.”
Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Ekstrom in 2014 to fill the vacant position left when Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. was appointed to the federal bench. He ran opposed in 2014 to serve the remainder of Mendoza’s term.
He spent the about six years prior to his appointment as a Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. He also served as a deputy prosecutor for Franklin and Benton counties.
The judge ruled that Arlene’s Flowers and its owner Barronelle Stutzman violated the state’s Consumer Protection Act by refusing to provide services for a same-sex wedding.
Ekstrom’s opponent, Alicia Berry, was part of the legal team representing the Richland flower shop. She said the ruling and others spurred her to seek the position. She left the legal team to run for the seat.
She was a partner with the Kennewick law firm Liebler Connor Berry St. Hilaire. Prior to her work in private practice, she worked for the Kennewick City Attorney’s Office for three years.