Skip to content

Hillestad announces candidacy for Dunn County Circuit Judge

Roger M. Hillestad announced his candidacy for Dunn County Circuit Court Judge Nov. 11, seeking to fill the seat vacated by the Honorable William Stewart, who is retiring effective November 31st, 2013.

“I chose to make my announcement on Veterans Day as that day has a special meaning for me”, Hillstead stated.   He grew up in Menomonie, having graduated from Menomonie High School with the Class of 1977.  Roger had previously attended grade school at Menomonie Central, Little Elk Creek and Coddington.

Roger is currently in private practice in Durand and serves as Buffalo and Pepin County Family Court Commissioner, the judicial official who hears divorce and child custody matters, and has the authority to hear most court hearings scheduled in both counties.  He has a total of over 10 years experience on the bench between the two counties and seeks to bring his knowledge, training and experience to serve the residents of Dunn County.

After graduating high school Roger served three years in the U.S. Army in the military police and in the U.S. Army Reserves, retiring in 1994.  He served with the 5501st US Army Hospital and was activated as part of its mission for Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991.  He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Army Achievement Medal for exemplary service as well as a National Defense Service Medal with Service Star and the Distinguished Unit Citation.

Roger is also a disabled veteran, having suffered a back injury while on active duty in the Army Reserves.  “I am very proud of the service I gave to my country.  Even though I have an injury which has affected me for life, I would do it all over again and would serve now if I could.  I was able to go to school on the G.I. Bill, so I owe a great deal to the Army, which taught me discipline and gave me focus, as well as giving me the experience of being a police officer.”

Following his discharge from active duty he went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, graduating in 1983  and then on to Hamline University School of Law, where he graduated in 1987.   Following a brief stint in private practice in Hudson he was hired as Assistant District Attorney for Chippewa County.  He then took a position in Durand, where he has been in private practice since 1989, and has owned his own firm since 1990.  His areas of practice include criminal and civil trial work, real estate, family law and estate planning and probate.  He also served briefly as Pepin County District Attorney and is currently Special Prosecutor for Buffalo County.

“I’m glad to be back in my home town and am looking forward to serving the residents of Dunn County as judge.  As soon as I heard Judge Stewart was retiring I found a house in Dunnville to rent and if elected, I will likely reside in one of the two houses I already own in Dunn County.  One is in Rock Falls and the other is in Downsville.”

“I believe my background, training and experience on the bench makes me the best qualified candidate to fill Judge Stewart’s position.  Judge Stewart’s retirement will leave Dunn County without a judge for over a half a year.  Dunn County therefore needs a judge who is able to hit the ground running, take control and not need a lot of training to get up to speed.  I don’t know of any other announced candidates at this time, but I believe I am best qualified for the position, no matter who else may be running.”

The election is currently scheduled for April 1st, with nomination papers to begin being circulated on December 1st to January 7th, 2014.  “I am looking forward to meeting as many people as I can and discussing my qualifications for the position with them.  I have practiced law for 26 years in many different counties in Western Wisconsin.  I have seen how many different judges manage their court rooms and caseloads and believe that I can use that experience to be well prepared to assume the responsibilities of circuit court judge.

“I have practiced in Menomonie and the surrounding area for my entire career, but I am not affiliated with any law firm so I will be able to be fair and unbiased to all parties, unlike other candidates who may be associated with certain firms and may tend to have a bias one way or the other.  Having been on my own with my own law practice will allow me to not have any conflicts of interest or cause anyone to question whether or not I an be fair, no matter who is appearing in front of me.  I have been in law enforcement and currently serve as both a prosecutor and  a defense attorney, so I am able to see matters from all sides.”

Roger’s family grew up in Eau Galle before moving to Menomonie in 1958 where he was born.  “My dad worked for the Dunn County Highway Department for most of his life, much of my family still resides in Menomonie and I have a number of clients and business contacts in Dunn County.  It will be a lot like coming home, although it feels like I have never really left.”

Roger is 54 years old and widowed, having lost his wife in 2008.  He has two children, Mark and Mary, who are 17 and 8 respectively.  “I understand the struggles of being a single parent and am very empathetic to all single parents, whether they are widowed or divorced.  I can bring my experience with family law, time on the bench and real life struggles to help people who are appearing in front of me.”

Roger is a life member of the N.R.A. and American Legion and a competitive pistol shooter, enjoys hunting and fishing while his dog, Remington, loves pheasant hunting.

For more information on his campaign he can be reached at his office number at 715-672-8955.