RACINE — Two names will appear on the ballot during the general election on April 2 for Racine County Circuit Court Branch 7.
The candidates are: Incumbent Judge Jon Fredrickson, who was appointed by then-Gov. Scott Walker in September to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Charles Constantine, and challenger Jamie McClendon, who previously worked for the Racine County Public Defender’s Office and is now an attorney in private practice.
Incumbent Judge Maureen M. Martinez of Racine is running unopposed for Racine County Circuit Court Branch 3. Martinez, a former assistant district attorney, was appointed to the bench in December to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Emily Mueller.
Circuit Court judges serve six-year terms and the current annual salary, set by the state, is $136,428.
What motivated you to run for office, and what strengths will you bring if you are elected?
Fredrickson: I currently hold this office as Racine County Circuit Court Judge for Branch 7. I am running to retain my judgeship. I became a judge so that I could use my energy and years of experience to serve the citizens of Racine County.
My judicial strength is founded upon nearly two decades of litigating complex cases in the trial and appellate courts, fighting for what is right. As a Racine County Circuit Court judge, I have a proven track record of serving our community well, with integrity and honesty.
I work hard to ensure that equal justice is done in each and every case. I treat every person in my court with respect. I always apply the law as written by our legislators, and never rewrite it. I cut through the fog, to get to the truth. My goal will always be fairness and equal justice.
McClendon: I have always been the resilient and strong one for the people in my life. As an attorney, I have applied those same qualities to the toughest of cases. Racine County judges and the Public Defender’s Office trust me to represent an individual’s liberties when no other attorney wants to.
When elected, I will be as uncompromising about protecting our freedoms, foundations and families as I have been in the over 1,300 cases in which I’ve represented the people of Racine County.
I have been a parent’s first phone call when they are having difficulties with their son or daughter. I have worked in the jail along with jail staff on weekends and holidays. I know how the Racine County court system works. I know its strengths and weaknesses. Racine County deserves to have a judge that actually has experience working in our community and protects justice for all people.
What are the issues facing the community and/or what are our goals if elected?
Fredrickson: Safety and security. As a law and order judge, my number one priority is ensuring the safety and security of Racine County residents. That starts with holding violent and dangerous members of our community individually accountable to the full extent of the law.
In my current rotation, I am the presiding judge in family court. As a father of two young children, I always keep the best interests of children as my primary concern. I also have many residents appear before me that cannot afford a lawyer. It is of critical importance that every person that appears before me is treated equally, fairly, and has the ability to tell their story, regardless of whether they can afford a lawyer. And no matter what, every person appearing before me will be treated with respect.
McClendon: I’ve spent my career dedicated to making sure the scales of justice are equal and fair. Each and every individual is guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The role of judges in our community are to uphold the law and ensure our rights are never violated. The recent reports from state and national publications detailing Wisconsin’s racial disparity in our justice system concern the people in the community, including myself. I know that we need to do more.
Racine County is ready to have a judge that is conscious of the disparity issues within the justice system and capable of being fair and impartial. After all, we all want the same thing, a safe and productive community.