Spring election 2024: Circuit court judge branch 3 primary candidates Q&A

Voters in Kenosha County will be able to vote in a primary on Feb. 20 to narrow the field for circuit court judge branch 3.

The candidates are: Frank Gagliardi, Heather Iverson and William Michel. Two will advance to the April 2 election.

The same questionnaire was submitted by westofthei.com to each candidate by email.

Here is their biographical information followed by their question responses, presented in alphabetical order:

Frank Gagliardi — Age:  44. Village, town, city where you reside: Twin Lakes. Education:  Brighton Elementary, St. Joseph High School, U.W. Parkside – Undergraduate degree (Focuses: Finance and Accounting),  and Law degree from Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Occupation:  Branch 3 Circuit Court Judge. Previous elected/appointed public office or pertinent professional/life experience:  18 years as an Attorney in private practice serving Kenosha County residents (office in Paddock Lake).  10+ years as a Circuit Court Commissioner for Kenosha County.

Heather Iverson — Age: 44. Village, town, city where you reside: Kenosha. Education: KUSD School  Graduate of Bradford High School Class of 1998. College UWP with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Law School:  Oklahoma City University School of Law. Occupation: Current Circuit Court Commissioner for Kenosha County since 2021. Previously Elected/appointed public office or pertinent professional/life experience: Appointed in 2021 as Circuit Court Commissioner by the Circuit Court Judge’s of Kenosha County. Appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to the Office of Lawyer Regulations District 1 Committee 2014 – 2020.

William Michel — Age: 53. Village, town, city where you reside: Pleasant Prairie. Education: Marquette University & Oklahoma City University Law School. Occupation: Full Time Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner. Previous elected/appointed public office or pertinent professional/life experience: I have a 25-plus-year legal career in the Kenosha County legal system. Before being appointed as one of three full-time Kenosha County Court Commissioners, I was an Assistant District Attorney for Kenosha County; Guardian ad litem (protecting the elderly & children); and I owned my own practice where I represented thousands of clients in criminal, civil, family, and traffic cases. I previously served Kenosha County as a County Board Supervisor for the 13th District, serving for eight years. I’m married to Kate and we’re the proud parents of three. I’m active in our community having served as Past President of Senior Action; Member of Wisconsin & Kenosha County Bar Associations; NAACP; Italian American Society; Knights of Columbus 973; Rotary Club; Kenosha Achievement Center Board; St. Joe’s High School Athletic Association; St. Mary’s Parish.

1.) Why are you the best choice for Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge?

Gagliardi — As your current, Branch 3 Circuit Court Judge, I want to continue to serve and make a difference in our community.  Making sure that the people who come before me are “heard,” and have a fair opportunity during their day in court. I realized early in my career that one of the most paramount concerns for my clients was that the Judge heard their issues and treated them with respect, whether they won their case or not. I want to ensure that this happens in our court! I am the most experienced candidate (in terms of the areas of law that I have litigated and in operating a private practice) and will use my experience as an asset in handling cases from the bench. I have been practicing law for nearly 18 years and have been a court commissioner since 2012. I have formally represented 557 clients in litigation throughout the State of WI in various areas of law.  The majority of these cases were contested requiring one or more of the issues to be determined by a formal judicial examination of the evidence in an adversary proceeding. The number of cases outlined above does not include my other clients whose matters were resolved informally. I bring experience, honesty, common sense, intellect, and I am someone who is smart on the issue of crime because I have our public safety as a priority!

Iverson — My extensive experience and legal knowledge makes me the best choice for Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge.  Currently, I serve as the only candidate who sits on the bench handling hundreds of cases each week involving multiple areas of law including: family, civil, criminal, juvenile delinquency, traffic citations, ordinances, forfeitures, restitution hearings,  traffic diversion programs, and cases involving children in need of protection and services.  None of the other candidates have this experience. In my time as a Judicial Court Commissioner, I’ve demonstrated my capability to manage courtrooms efficiently, ensuring fair and impartial hearings. I’ve issued orders on diverse cases, consistently upholding the constitution and principles of justice. In my more than 15 years practicing law, all have been dedicated to serving the residents of Kenosha County. I have served as a Special Prosecutor for the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office, as an attorney for the Kenosha County Child Support Agency representing the interest of Kenosha County residents and the State of Wisconsin, and I now serve the residents of Kenosha County as a Circuit Court Commissioner. My commitment to Kenosha County, experience in all areas of law, grace under pressure and integrity make me the best choice for Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge.

Michel When I am at doors, people are sharing that they look for a judge who is fair but tough, and has experience. I offer voters the best choice for our next judge because I have a track record of being fair & tough on crime. I have over two decades of experience in our Kenosha County legal system. I have the distinct experience of serving in every seat in the Courtroom (except the Defendant’s). I was a Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney and a Guardian ad Litem where I protected the most vulnerable (the elderly and our children). I ran my own private practice where I handled thousands of criminal, civil, family, and traffic cases. Currently, I am one of three full-time Court Commissioners for Kenosha County. Every day I go to work, I hear cases, make tough decisions on bail and bond, and protect and serve our community. I am ready on day one to do the job and keep our community safe. Experience isn’t just age. Experience is the knowledge gained by representing thousands of clients, it’s the decisions weighed when setting bond and bail, and it’s the perspectives gained from practicing in front of the many distinguished judges past and present in our County. These stories, duties, and perspectives have helped me enhance my practice as an attorney and have prepared me to serve as your next judge.

2.) What is the key characteristic a circuit court judge should possess?

Gagliardi — A Circuit Court Judge should be someone who will work hard and respectfully operate the courtroom; however, the most important thing is that the Judge will be committed to fairly and objectively upholding the law.

Iverson — The key characteristic that every judge should possess is integrity. Integrity is the bedrock upon which the legal system stands, and it plays a pivotal role in upholding the principles of justice. A judge with integrity demonstrates an unwavering commitment to honesty, transparency, and ethical conduct. Integrity ensures that judges remain impartial and unbiased in their decision-making processes. It demands that they adhere strictly to the rule of law, without succumbing to external pressures or personal biases. Judges with integrity inspire trust in the legal system, fostering confidence among the public that their cases will be handled fairly and justly. Moreover, a judge’s integrity extends beyond the courtroom. It involves maintaining a high level of moral and ethical standards in both professional and personal spheres, as the public rightly expects judges to exemplify the virtues they enforce. By embodying integrity, judges contribute to the preservation of the legal system’s credibility and reinforce public faith in the pursuit of justice.

Michel — Experience is the key characteristic that a circuit court judge should possess. Experience gives a future judge the knowledge and skills to serve and protect the community. A circuit court judge should have broad experience guided by solid work ethic, leadership skills, integrity, and legal knowledge. I look to the great examples of some of our past judges, Schroeder, Bastianelli, Kluka, Warren, and Wagner (to just name a few)- they showed up, put in long hours, and made tough decisions. They expected excellence in their Courtroom because everyone deserves their day in Court. I am ready to apply my 25+ year experience to serve as your next circuit court judge.


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