Denfeld News

Nov. 3, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Cuzzo leads Costley in judicial race
By Mark Stodghill

Duluth lawyer Mike Cuzzo opened a wide lead over Two Harbors native and lawyer Tim Costley in early returns from four counties Tuesday in the race to become just the third judge to serve the North Shore of Lake Superior in nearly 60 years.

Cuzzo garnered a better than 2-1 advantage over Costley with all 36 precincts reporting in Duluth. The men are on the ballot in St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Cook counties. Costley led in Lake and Cook counties, where the vote totals are significantly less than in St. Louis County.

“Obviously, I’m pleased with the Duluth results, but I think it’s most appropriate that we wait until final totals are in from the entire judicial district,’’ Cuzzo said from his campaign party at Mr. D’s in West Duluth.

Cuzzo also had a significant lead in Carlton County, with 37 of 39 precincts reporting.

One of the two men will replace Judge Kenneth Sandvik, who announced that he plans to retire at the end of the year. Sandvik was appointed by former Gov. Rudy Perpich in 1984. Before Sandvik, Judge Walter Egeland settled legal disputes on the North Shore starting in 1952.

Because the 6th Judicial District includes St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Cook counties and its judges can hear cases in all four counties, the candidates were on the ballot in all four counties.

Costley, 43, campaigned on a theme that he thinks it’s important the judge who hears cases at the Lake County Courthouse in Two Harbors and the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais live and work on the North Shore, as he does.

Cuzzo, 52, said he is a confident, fair decision-maker, who is frequently selected as an arbitrator and mediator. He was favored by 63.5 percent of Northeastern Minnesota attorneys who responded to a poll. Costley said he has 16 years of courtroom experience, handling a wide range of complex cases.

Cuzzo grew up in Duluth and graduated from Denfeld High School, the University of Minnesota Duluth and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has 26 years of experience as a trial attorney.

Costley has a law practice with his father, Mitch, who is semiretired. Costley graduated from Two Harbors High School, the University of Minnesota Duluth and William Mitchell College of Law. He has 16 years of experience as a lawyer.

Both candidates claimed that they had more legal experience than their opponent.

Cuzzo handily won the August primary in a race that included eight lawyers, with Costley coming in a distant second. Cuzzo captured more than twice as many votes as Costley in the primary.

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