On Tuesday, February 16, voters will head to the polls to vote, although here in Madison there are not many races that hold the voters’ attention. However, it’s not an election to skip, as an important primary is taking place for Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Judge Joe Donald offers voters a breath of fresh air. Talk to most attorneys who have practiced before him and they will tell you that he is fair, impartial, and gives everybody a fair shake. He has built a career and reputation based on being a good judge, which compares favorably to both Justice Rebecca Bradley and Judge Joanne Kloppenburg.
Judge Donald was the leading voice for creating Milwaukee County’s first drug treatment court back in 2008. His leadership was vital in moving Milwaukee County toward alternatives to mass incarceration rather than continuing the dangerous trend that has put Wisconsin dead last in the country in Black incarceration rates. The drug treatment courts that Judge Donald championed in Milwaukee addresses the underlying causes of crime by getting people the help they need to treat their addiction or mental illness. These courts keep families and communities together and actually save taxpayers money. Judge Donald should be applauded for his foresight and leadership on this issue.
On the campaign trail, Judge Donald, who is seeking to become the first Black person elected to the Supreme Court (Justice Louis Butlerx was appointed but never elected) and the first Black man to be elected statewide (Vel Phillips was elected for one term to Secretary of State in 1978), and frequently quotes civil rights leader John Lewis by saying, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
He is right. If a Black judge who has three times the judicial experience than both of his opponents put together cannot win, then who will? If candidates win based solely on prior name recognition and partisan allies, what does that say about us and the current state of the Wisconsin Supreme Court?
Especially because his main opponent, who is already benefiting from more than $1 million in shady television ads from secret donors is Rebecca Bradley. Bradley was appointed three times to three successively higher positions by Governor Scott Walker, and has a long record of supporting right-wing causes. The other challenger, Judge Joanne Kloppenburg of Madison, would be preferable to Bradley.
Vote Judge Joe Donald on Tuesday, February 16.