Two step up for Clerk of Courts
Two newcomers have thrown their hats into the ring to become Douglas County’s Clerk of Courts.
David Leckel and Michele Wick are running as Democratic candidates.
Joan Osty, who held the position for 21 years, declared this year she would not be seeking another term.
That prompted Leckel, deputy chief Clerk of Courts, to become a contender. With 25 years of experience working in the office, Leckel said, he knows how the system works and what needs to be done.
“It’s a very complicated job,” he said. “You have to know a little bit about every different kind of case, you have to know all the procedures. You have to be able to fill in for everybody in the office who’s going to be gone.”
Leckel, 53, has experience with nearly every aspect of the office, financial and court sides, and enjoys finding solutions.
“If somebody brings me a problem and there’s a possibility of solving it, I’ll stick to it until it gets solved,” he said.
Wick, an account specialist with the office for 11 years, said she is running because it’s time for a change.“I’m willing to learn, willing to bring in new ideas,” she said. “People in the office have ideas on how things could change in the office to be more efficient. I’m willing to do that. I’m willing to go to the meetings. I’m willing to be a voice for the office.” She is also a proponent of increasing automation and a more detailed website.
Working in the Clerk of Courts office presents daily challenges.
“It’s fast-paced,” Wick said. “I like the people. I like to help people, and it changes all the time. It’s never the same thing two days in a row.”
“There’s always something new that’s coming up, very unique situations that you have to try and figure out how the statutes apply and what needs to be done,” Leckel said. “It’s never boring.”
Statewide changes like the electronic filing of documents are looming on the horizon to keep clerks on their toes.
The nine people who work in the office act as a buffer between the public and the court system, Leckel said.
“When they come in to file their cases, we have to know how to do it, how to work them through the process so it’s less stressful,” he said. “Very few people are happy when they come up there.”
Wick likened it to peeling an onion. When someone calls or drops by for a copy of something, office personnel ask questions to “peel the onion back and find out what they’re actually looking for.”
In addition, the Clerk of Courts is in charge of personnel decisions, records storage, setting up juries, providing interpreters, filling in for sick or vacationing employees and more.
When asked about her opponent’s strengths, Wick said Leckel is very knowledgeable on the case side.
“He has many years of experience and he’s a good guy,” she said.
Leckel praised the innovations Wick has implemented over the years, such as setting up tax intercept and working out payment plans for fines.
“Michele is very diligent; she’s a very hard worker,” he said, and she works well with the public.
The two demonstrated their speaking skills Wednesday night in front of the Superior Federation of Labor. Neither has run for public office before and they admitted to being nervous. But the competition is a friendly one.
“We shook hands tonight,” Wick said.
Both are aware their timetable has been accelerated. The primary election will determine the next Clerk of Courts. The candidates said they hope the sheriff’s election will motivate voters to go to the polls Aug. 12.
Three candidates have thrown their hat in the ring to be the next Douglas County Sheriff.
Incumbent Tom Dalbec and County Board Supervisor Mark Liebaert are running as Democrats and Lac Courte Oreilles narcotics officer Daniel Bethards is running as a Republican.
In other races, Douglas County voters will decide primaries in the 25th District Wisconsin Senate race and 74th District Assembly race.
In the race for the seat long held by Poplar Democrat Bob Jauch, three Democrats are vying for votes in the Aug. 12 primary. State Rep. Janet Bewley of Ashland faces challenges from Gary Kauther of Maple and Thomas Ratzlaff of Park Falls. The top vote-getter faces Republican Dane Deutsch in the general election Nov. 4.
In the 74th District Bewley represents now, Graham Garfield of Mason and Beth Meyers of Bayfield are facing off for the Democratic nomination from voters. The winner of that race faces Republican Jamey Francis of Hurley in November.
Five candidates have stepped forward in the 7th Congressional District. Mike Krsiean of Houlton and Kelly Westlund of Ashland are vying for Democrat votes during the August primary, and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, is facing a challenge from Don Raihala of Superior for the Republican nomination. Ballot status is pending for Green Party candidate Lawrence Dale of Eagle River.
Statewide, voters will decide governor and lieutenant governor races, attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.
In the governor’s race, Democrats Mary Burke and Brett Hulsey face off Aug. 12 for a chance to run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November. Other candidates in the governor’s race include Libertarian Robert Burke of Hudson and People’s Party candidate Dennis Fehr of Chippewa Falls.
In November, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch faces a challenge from either Democrat John Lehman of Racine or Mary Jo Walters of Madison, and Libertarian Joseph Borst of New Richmond.
Three Democrats stepped forward in the race for Wisconsin’s Attorney General. Susan Happ of Jefferson, Ismael Ozanne of Madison or Jon Richards of Milwaukee face Republican Brad Schimel in November.
Garey Bies of Sister Bay and Julian Bradley of La Crosse are vying for the Republican nomination to challenge Secretary of State Doug La Follette. Also vying for the seat are Constitution party candidate Jerry Broitzman and Libertarian Andy Craig, both of Milwaukee.
State treasurer candidates include Democrats Dave Lepper of Madison and David Santori of Cudahy, Republicans Matt Adamczyk of Wauwatosa and Randall Melchert of Menomonee Falls, Constitution candidate Andrew Zuelke of Ripon, Libertarian Jerry Shidell of Rhinelander and Green Party candidate Ron Hardy of Oshkosh.
Superior Telegram editor Shelley Nelson contributed to this report.