Cuzzo, Costley lead in 6th District Court race

Mike Cuzzo and Timothy Costley will advance to November's general election for the North Shore judgeship that opened when longtime Judge Kenneth Sandvik announced he was retiring.

Mike Cuzzo and Timothy Costley will advance to November's general election for the North Shore judgeship that opened when longtime Judge Kenneth Sandvik announced he was retiring.

Cuzzo, of Duluth, who was the first of eight lawyers to declare their candidacies for the seat, received about 36 percent of the votes cast.

Two Harbors lawyer Tim Costley, of Two Harbors, received more than 17 percent of the votes.

The lawyers were on the ballot in St. Louis, Carlton, Lake and Cook counties - all part of the 6th Judicial District - and vote totals were slow to be reported outside of Duluth and Lake County.

Cuzzo heavily carried Duluth with 5,239 votes with all precincts reporting. Fellow Duluth lawyer Tim Little was second in Duluth with 2,049 votes. Lake County Attorney Russ Conrow was third with 1,178 votes and Two Harbors lawyer Tim Costley fourth with 1,036, followed by Juhl Halvorson, 811; John Lind, 611; James Ross, 327; and Lawrence Ulanowski, 219.


Conrow carried Lake County with 1,266 votes with all precincts reporting. Costley was second in Lake County with 1,108. Cuzzo was a distant third with 268.

Totals from St. Louis, Carlton and Cook counties were incomplete at press time, but votes in those counties were enough to put Costley ahead of Conrow and Little in the overall count as of 1 a.m. Cuzzo had 6,276 votes, Costly, 4,787; Conrow, 3070; and Little, 2,493.

"I'm just thankful that the voters saw the hard work that I've put in over the years as an attorney and that they trust me," Cuzzo said when told of the Duluth vote totals. "I'm incredibly thankful that we've had such a tremendous group of people that have been willing to go to bat for me and help me with this campaign."

Cuzzo, 52, 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 experience as a trial attorney. He has taught other attorneys at continuing education courses sponsored by Minnesota Continuing Education and the Minnesota Association for Justice.

He has coached high school and college mock trial teams, and frequently volunteers as a mock trial judge in local, state and regional competitions.

The lawyers are vying to replace the 62-year-old Sandvik, who announced that he plans to retire at the end of the year after being appointed by former Gov. Rudy Perpich in 1984. Before Sandvik, Judge Walter Egeland settled legal disputes on the North Shore starting in 1952.

Cuzzo said he has represented more than a thousand people and organizations and is frequently asked to serve as an arbitrator and mediator. He said he was seeking election to that position because he believed his experience and record as a trial attorney, arbitrator, mediator and teacher, as well as his ties to Northeastern Minnesota, provided the background needed to serve the citizens of this region well.

What would his judicial philosophy and temperament be?


"My philosophy is just respect for all people, respect for the law, respect for the community and to continue to work hard and have a strong work ethic," Cuzzo said. "I think people, plaintiffs' attorneys and defendants' attorneys have seen me as a calm, even-tempered, confident decision-maker."

Cuzzo said he and his wife share their time between living in Duluth and in Lutsen. "If I end up with this job I certainly intend to make the North Shore a continued part of our home," he said. "We built our dream home in Lutsen and intended that to be our permanent residence at some point in our life."

Costley was born and raised in Two Harbors. He has a law practice with his father, Mitch, who is semi-retired. He graduated from Two Harbors High School, UMD and William Mitchell College of Law. He has served on the 11th District Bar Association Ethics Committee.

"I just want to thank all the candidates for running aggressive and clean campaigns," Costley said when reached at 12:30 a.m. this morning. "I appreciate that the 6th Judicial District voters understand the importance of having a local attorney serving as the North Shore judge and I'd like to thank all the voters of Northeastern Minnesota for their support."

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