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Two Dems vie for Clerk of Courts

When the polls close Aug. 12, Douglas County voters will have selected their Clerk of Courts. With two Democratic candidates vying for the position, the primary election will decide the winner.

Michele Wick, 49, has been with the Clerk of Courts Office more than 11 years. She worked for Enbridge for 16 years prior to that until her job was outsourced to Texas. As a result, she was active in the county employees’ union, holding a number of officer positions, until Act 10 was adopted. It’s time for a change in the office, Wick said. She would like to add more information to the current Douglas County Clerk of Courts website, file more records on current media and change things in the office as well.

“The employees have ideas — workflow, office layout — just the people that are actually doing the work,” she said. “Why not ask them what changes they might like to see?”

She has already implemented a number of new procedures in the office, including tax intercept for unpaid fines.

Chief Deputy Clerk of Courts. David Leckel, 53, brings 25 years of experience in the office to the table. As chief deputy, Leckel steps up to perform Clerk of Court duties when the current clerk, Joan Osty, is on vacation.

“I’ve worked on the court side, I started on the financial side of the office,” Leckel said. “I’ve worked with pretty much every aspect in the office.”

Most recently, he’s been at the counter.

“That’s probably the best preparation you have for doing any type of case in the office because everyone who comes in has a different problem, a different type of case,” he said. “So once you get used to being able to help them out, you can pretty much handle any problem with any of the cases at the desk.”

Leckel also has good working relationships with other cogs in the wheels of justice, from judges to law enforcement agencies and public defenders. On occasion, an office or agency may change methods or forms; something may need clarifying.

“Unless you’re on good terms with the office, asking them to work with you could result in just butting heads and not accomplishing anything,” Leckel said.

Wick said budget constraints and requirements set by the state are constant issues in the office, and there needs to be a way to mesh the two together.

“Cuts cannot continually be made without looking at the functions and operations within the office to improve efficiency,” she said.

The Superior woman said she likes hard work, she’s open to change, ideas and suggestions, and she tries to get along with everybody.

“We’re a service office,” she said. “That’s what we are, we service the public. And you have to be able to deal with all walks of life and that’s part of what I can do.”

Wick also owns Shabby Shed in Superior’s South End.

“As a business owner myself, I understand the need for accuracy, flexibility and customer service,” she said.

Customer service ranks high on Leckel’s priority list, as well.

“In working with the public, just saying ‘we can’t do that’ isn’t enough,” he said. “We have to be able to explain why it can’t be done and give them other alternatives to accomplish what they want. On many occasions, we have to go the extra mile to help with their problems.”

The Clerk of Courts Office serves as a gateway to the court system for most of the public. The office records and files court cases, it accepts bail and fine payments, sets up jury trials and retains records of court proceedings as required by Wisconsin law. The clerk is responsible for hiring and firing employees, and filling in when an employee is out sick or on vacation.