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COLFAX — Christina Mayer will be one of two candidates for Dunn County Circuit Court judge in the April 6 election.
Mayer will be facing challenger Nicholas P. Lange.
Mayer and Lange are running for the circuit court judge position currently held by Judge Rod Smeltzer, who will be retiring this summer.
Mayer, age 54, has one daughter who she adopted in 2019 as an adult. Her daughter is married, has two stepchildren and had a baby in August.
A graduate of Chippewa Falls Senior High School in 1985, Mayer earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from UW-Eau Claire in May of 1990 and earned her Juris Doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law in May of 1995.
Here are Mayer’s answers to a candidate questionnaire sent out by the Colfax Messenger and the Tribune Press Reporter:
Why did you decide to run for circuit court judge?
I have spent my career working with families, children, elderly and disabled persons. I try to make a positive difference in the lives of people that I encounter. I volunteer for number of different organizations that help our citizens. I believe I can continue helping people in our county on a larger platform if I became judge. Community service is important to me and, as Circuit Court Judge, I can serve Dunn County in a constructive way.
What about your background or education or values make you particularly suited to serving as circuit court judge?
Over the past 25 years, I have gained experience in child protection, family law, elder law, real estate, probate, estate planning, guardianships and guardian ad litem work and have had an office in Dunn County for over 20 years. My practice surrounds families. I have a unique understanding of family dynamics and a passion for helping and protecting children in our community. I am involved in the Dunn County Family Treatment Court Board and I am very supportive of diversion court in general. Too many times criminal behavior affects families. If we can help divert that behavior early and stop continued drug use and crime, everyone wins.
It is important for a circuit court judge to understand the workings of a court room. In my work as an attorney, I appear in the courtroom 30-50 times per month. I have been a part of all types of legal procedures including jury trials. I have handled matters involving criminal law, mental commitments, child support issues, business law, municipal law and traffic matters. I also conduct home visits with children, elderly and disabled persons in the community 10-15 times per month.
One of my core values is giving of my time and resources to the community in which I live. I currently serve on the following boards: Menomonie Free Clinic, Boys & Girls Club Advisory Committee, Try Mediation Board, Stepping Stones Development Committee, Dunn County Family Treatment Court Board, Menomonie Sunrise Rotary and State Bar of Wisconsin Family Law Section Board. Many years of practicing law in Dunn County have given me opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds. I have the legal understanding, sound judgment and dedication to fairness that will serve Dunn County well in the role of circuit court judge.
What do you believe to be the biggest challenges or issues facing the circuit court in Dunn County?
Drugs are an increasing problem in our county, state and nation. Dunn County has been innovative in developing both a drug treatment court and a family treatment court. Drug treatment court focuses on helping people who are involved in the criminal system due to drug or alcohol use change their behavior so that they are no longer involved in criminal activity and able to be productive and contributing members of the community. Family treatment court is about families that have lost their children due to drugs or alcohol use change their behaviors so that they can have their children safely returned to their care.
As a member of the Dunn County Family Treatment Court Oversight Committee, I have seen first-hand that one of the benefits of the treatment courts is the amount of support a probation officer or social worker is able to give a participant. Because of the treatment court structure, participants are held more accountable than they would be in traditional court processes. Participants also value the attention of the judge. The judge is an important person in a community and what the judge says matters to people.
Drug and family treatment courts allow people a chance to solve the underlying reasons they are committing crimes, behaving uncontrollably and losing their children. It allows people the support necessary to make meaningful changes in their lives. If people can change their lives, they better not only themselves but their families, other people around them and the community in which they live.
Unfortunately, public safety requires that some people are sentenced to prison. Sometimes people commit very serious crimes or repetitively commit crimes and incarceration becomes the only option. However, the outcomes of incarceration are not reliable and at the end of their sentence, most people return home. When the option exists to provide treatment aimed at long-term change while protecting the public instead of incarceration, this option should be given careful consideration.
During the COVID pandemic, the court system experienced interruptions and delays. While Dunn County was proactive in implementing virtual options for hearings and developing safe protocols for jury trials fairly early in the pandemic, the backlog of casework resulting from the pandemic will have an impact on the court system for many months to come. Additionally, orienting two new judges to the bench in August will take time and effort that will have impact on the court until both are up to speed and able to effectively manage a full caseload.
Our current judge, Judge Peterson, has a strong history in criminal justice. Our county court system will continue to benefit from his leadership regarding criminal cases. I could bring an additional focus on families to our court system.
What do you hope to accomplish by serving as circuit court judge?
As a circuit court judge, I hope to bring families and children more attention in our judicial system. Many judges and attorneys do not like working with families and children because the cases can last years and can be very emotional. I would like to implement programs in Dunn County that help people in family court cases reach timely resolution. One means of accomplishing this involves requiring the parties to participate in mediation services on all issues before a case is tried to the court. I would also like to promote Family Treatment Court. Additional families who have become involved in the juvenile court system as a result of drug or alcohol use could be involved in this program. As a judge, I would have an opportunity to be a champion of this valuable program.
Anything else you would like voters to know?
My entire career as a local attorney has equipped me with the experience and skills necessary to serve Dunn County as judge and protector of the public trust. Over the past 25 years, I have spent hundreds of hours in the courtroom and I am proficient in courtroom procedures. I have solid working relationships with many local attorneys and look forward to serving them well as a fair and impartial decision maker.
One of my greatest strengths is my ability to help people reach a compromise. I am a skilled negotiator. My profession and life experiences allow me to understand many perspectives. I am a skilled problem solver and seek resolutions that people see as fair and just. Using the skills of mediation, I am able to help people see conflict from different perspectives which reduces blame and promotes resolution.
With the interest of justice and fairness at the forefront, I have represented my community and neighbors for more than 25 years. I would be honored to continue to serve our community and bring a fresh perspective to the people of Dunn County as Circuit Court Judge.