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Clifford, Ziegler seek seat on state's highest court

A county judge and a lawyer who specializes in immigration and employment law are the candidates as Wisconsin voters select a new Supreme Court judge next Tuesday.

The candidates are Annette K. Ziegler, who has been Washington County judge for nearly 10 years, and Linda M. Clifford, a shareholder in the Madison office of Godfrey & Kahn.

The winner will be elected to a 10-year term on the seven-member Wisconsin Supreme Court. She will replace incumbent Jon P. Wilcox, who is retiring.

Ziegler, West Bend, claims she is the best candidate because she has worked as a judge.

"I think it just makes sense to have sat on the bench, presided over a courtroom and made the often difficult decisions a judge is called upon to make before you serve on our state's highest court," said Ziegler in a letter to the editor.

Clifford, of course, disagrees.

"The Wisconsin Supreme Court needs the diversity that a practicing lawyer with 32 years experience will bring to the bench," she said.

According to her law firm's Web site, Clifford's practice includes civil and administrative litigation and appeals involving energy, telecommunications, media and municipal and state government issues.

"On a pro bono basis, she has attained asylum for refugees from Iraq, Ethiopia and Kazakhstan persecuted on account of their ethnic, political and religious affiliation," according to the site.

Ziegler has been a judge for almost 10 years and presiding judge in Washington County for the last six years. Prior to serving on the bench, she was a prosecutor and a lawyer in private practice.

"My experience of being a sitting judge for nearly a decade will allow me to serve the community, as a Supreme Court Justice, from day one," she said.

Retiring Justice Jon Wilcox endorsed Ziegler Monday. She is also endorsed by 51 county sheriffs, including Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove and St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead; by 43 county district attorneys, including St. Croix County DA Eric Johnson; and by 132 county judges, including St. Croix County judges Eric Lundell and Scott Needham.

Clifford is endorsed by former governor Lee Dreyfus, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, the Communications Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and several other labor organizations.