EVERETT -- The Snohomish County Council on Friday chose a seasoned public defender with administrative experience to fill a vacancy in the South Division of Snohomish County District Court. Elizabeth Fraser emerged as the clear favorite after council members interviewed her and two other finalists, Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright said. With a 5-0 consensus, the council decided to act rather than waiting to make a decision next week, as originally scheduled. "We had three highly qualified candidates," Wright said. "We think we would have been well served by any of the three. With Beth's passion and background, all of the council members agreed she would be a good fit." Fraser has run the county's office of public defense since 2001, working to ensure that qualified indigent defendants receive legal representation in criminal cases. She is a former public defender. The two other finalists were Doug Fair, a former deputy prosecutor with experience as a municipal court judge and a city hearing examiner; and Anthony Howard, an appointed a district court commissioner since 2011 who also has served as a judge pro tempore. A total of 19 attorneys asked the council to consider them for the post. Fraser is to serve until the general election in November. She is assuming the judge's job previously held by Tim Ryan, who retired at the end of 2012. Ryan, 65, had served on the District Court bench for two decades. He angered many after avoiding charges stemming from a drunken-driving arrest last summer. Ryan refused to participate in sobriety testing. King County prosecutors later determined there was insufficient evidence to bring a case against him. Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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