Janesville32.4°

McDonald to run for judge

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David Brazy
July 13, 2011
— Rock County Court Judge James Welker will not seek re-election in April, and at least one local attorney plans to seek the bench seat.

Janesville City Council member Tom McDonald on Tuesday announced plans to run.


McDonald, 30, at the end of June announced he would not seek another term on the council. He said Tuesday that he still wants to be a public servant but his priorities have changed after getting married and preparing for a child on the way.


"I'm not running for the city council because it is a lot of weekends and evenings," McDonald said. "I wanted to make sure those evenings and weekends are open to family time."


Welker, who has been on the Rock County bench since 1988, has said he will not seek re-election in April. His term ends July 31, 2012. He said he has not decided if he will finish his term or leave early.


The April election for the Welker's post will coincide with the end of McDonald's term as a city councilman.


If Welker decides to vacate his post early, Gov. Scott Walker could appoint an interim judge. There is no magic timetable for when an appointment would have to be made, but it is up to the governor to decide, Welker said.


The nomination process, Welker said, normally takes around six weeks.


"If you count forward from today, we are talking about September by the time someone actually got appointed," Welker said. "If (a vacancy) did not occur by Labor Day, it would be impractical (to appoint someone before the election)."


A new judge appointed by the governor would have to run for the position in April, but he or she would do so as an incumbent.


McDonald is an attorney at McDonald Law Office, 200 S. Main St., Janesville. He said he is qualified for the job because of his knowledge as a trial lawyer and his experience working on the council.


"Four years on the city council is helpful in my case," McDonald said. "It brings in the role of already being a public servant and having to make difficult decisions. I think that translates into any branch of the government."


McDonald said he wanted to announce his candidacy now to give himself time to generate support and talk to people while they're out enjoying the summer months.


Candidates can officially declare in December.


McDonald is not the only one interested in the position. Welker said two other people have asked if he planned to run again, but he declined to release their names.


"(McDonald) won't be the only one running," Welker said.



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