Six seek Rock County judge post

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Five Janesville attorneys and one of Rock County's five court commissioners—each with experience in Rock County courtrooms—are vying to replace retiring Rock County Judge James Welker, who is retiring.

Candidates include:

-- Tom McDonald, 31, 16 Marshall Place, Janesville, in July was the first to announce his candidacy. He has served on the Janesville City Council since being elected in 2008, but he is not seeking re-election.

McDonald is an attorney at McDonald Law Office, Janesville. He said his experience as a trial lawyer as well as his experience on the council have prepared him for work as a judge.

"It brings in the role of already being a public servant and having to make difficult decisions," McDonald said. "I think that translates into any branch of the government."

-- Harry C. O'Leary, 2012 N. Granite Drive, Janesville Township, also has experience on the city council. He was elected in 1991 and served 12 years.

O'Leary also served on city and county committees, including the Janesville Plan Commission from 1995 to 2003, the Janesville Police Department Design Committee and the Rock County Board of Adjustment.

He said he has a lot of experience working in courtrooms and has, as a result, learned much about being a judge.

"I've seen judges in Rock, Dane, Walworth, Green counties and others," O'Leary said. "I've seen what I consider positive and negative tactics. I've got the disposition, knowledge and experience that will allow me to be effective as a judge."

-- Jack Hoag, 59, 4155 Eastridge Drive, Janesville, was the third to announce his candidacy.

Hoag has been in private practice in Janesville since 1980. He graduated from UW-Madison Law School in 1978 and was admitted to the state bar the same year.

Hoag has served on the Salvation Army's advisory board, the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Rock County and was chairman of a YMCA membership drive committee. He also has been a coach in the Janesville area for youth and high school teams for more than a decade.

"(Voters) can expect a knowledgeable, hardworking judge who is committed to a fair and impartial administration of justice," Hoag said.

-- Tod Daniel, 4446 N. Connor Road, Janesville, was the fourth candidate to declare his intent candidacy. He, too, has experience as an elected official. Daniel was appointed to the Janesville School Board in 1987 and was elected three times, also serving as school board president in 1996-97.

Daniel graduated in 1964 from St. Norbert College in De Pere. He earned his law degree from Marquette University in 1967.

Daniel, 69, has been an attorney in Janesville since 1969 when he returned from two years of service in the Army. About 60 percent of his career has been spent litigating civil cases while the rest has been on criminal cases of all kinds, he said.

"I have always represented Rock County residents in my law practice and as a public official," Daniel wrote in a news release. "I intend to continue that representation from the bench. I will be beholden to no special interests."

-- Mike Haakenson, 49, 2215 Purple Aster Lane, Janesville, has been an attorney in Janesville since 1989. For the last 10 years, he has served as one of several court-appointed guardians ad litem in the county.

Haakenson has many years of experience in Rock County courtrooms, he said.

"Since coming here, I have been in court almost every day," Haakenson wrote in a news release.

This campaign is Haakenson's first for a publicly elected position. He graduated in 1988 from UW-Madison Law School and is a member of the SpotLight on Kids Board of Directors.

-- Also seeking Welker's post is Barbara McCrory, one of Rock County's five court commissioners.

McCrory, 50, of 507 Apache Drive, Janesville, has been Rock County's family court commissioner since 1999. Before that she worked in private practice at Brennan Steil law firm in Janesville.

"I believe I have a lot of very good experience," McCrory said. "I've been doing judicial work for the last 10 years. I have experience to take it to the next level as judge."

McCrory earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism from UW-Madison in 1983 and a law degree from UW-Madison in 1992.

Last updated: 7:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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