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For A Safer Kenosha County, Vote Heather Iverson For Judge on April 2: Opinion

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Heather Iverson – Kenosha County Court Commissioner, Candidate For Circuit Court Judge
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

“No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!” The chant of the crowed rose in crescendo, underscoring the fiery nights of Kenosha’s 2020 riots. Thousands of onlookers, both in person and online, felt a confusing sense of chaotic inner conflict, as heartbreak loomed for our beloved hometown. No one knew exactly what to feel, no one had all the information. Protesters demanded accountability in the pursuit of justice, while and law enforcement worked both to keep people safe and protect our First Amendment rights.

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Paging through Nathan Debruin’s recently published photographic saga, “A Journey into the Days of the Kenosha Unrest,” the images revive a spectrum of emotion that is inexplicable to an outsider, to a person who wasn’t there, to a person who didn’t already call Kenosha home.

Crowds with raised fists crying out for answers, pleading for consequences. Police and fire personnel wearing brave faces, secretly uncertain if they’d make it home to their loved ones. Modern Kenosha turned to ruins with only the smoldering skeletons of Rhode’s Camera Shop, the Danish Brotherhood, and B&L Office Furniture left to show where there were once dreams, there were now nightmares.

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Debruin’s images of the charred steel corpses on the Car Source lots bring to mind unanswered questions. “Was anyone ever charged for that? Are they in jail?” The truth is, compared to the volume of crime committed, relatively few people faced legal consequences for their actions in the 2020 riots. Despite mountains of photographic and video evidence from hundreds of sources, including the FBI, few people were brought to justice for their role in the destruction of our city. They got away with it. The system failed.

Topping the list of reasons why Kenosha County elected its first ever conservative to the County Executive’s office in 2022 and its first ever conservative-leaning county board was the electorate’s loss of confidence in the liberal status quo after the riots. Residents were sick and tired of community leaders who prioritized social justice over safety. Today, they are sick and tired of the pervasive soft-on-crime attitudes in our local justice system that turn a blind eye in the name of equity and repeatedly punish victims.

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The crime creep from Chicago and Milwaukee is not coming, it is already here. Thanks to “defund the police” movements that were fueled, in part, by the Kenosha riots, Wisconsin cities are equipped with record low numbers of law enforcement officers. Who wants to be a cop when the powers that be are against you? How many times do you see “pursuit terminated” when in yet another car chase on the police scanner? How many times do you see another PNB (pulseless not breathing), “Narcan administered,” or DOA and become less and less sensitive to local overdose deaths? (There were 55 in Kenosha County in 2023!) Unpunished smash and grabs at Prime Outlets, mid-day car thefts right off the lot, repeat domestic violence convictions with pleas or minimal jail time? The system is still failing.

With the elimination of cash bail in Illinois, Kenosha is now in even more danger. This is why it is important to elect a judge that has solid experience in criminal law. Heather Iverson’s extensive experience in diverse areas of practice significantly set her above her opponent. Commissioner Iverson has served as an attorney for the Kenosha County Child Support agency and a guardian ad-litem. She has depth in the area of family law, including TPR (termination of parental rights), foster care, and adoption. Not only does she hear criminal cases, Iverson operates a diversion program, has experience in treatment court, traffic, juvenile delinquency, and in CHIPS (children in need of protective services). Her opponent’s resume pales in comparison.

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Heather Iverson was appointed by all eight sitting judges to serve as a court commissioner. Throughout her campaign, Commissioner Iverson’s commitment to the rule of law has been clear and evident. When asked in a recent debate about her judicial philosophy, Heather emphasized that she does not believe in politicking from the bench. A wife and mother of two, Heather is a lifelong Kenoshan who is personally motivated to help keep families safe. Her commitment to the community shines brightly through her involvement in an abundance of volunteer efforts. Raised by a single mother, Heather’s story of hard-work and perseverance on the path to success resonates in her humble and admirable work-ethic.

Don’t let the “Keep Judge Gagliardi” signs around town fool you. Frank Gagliardi was only recently (Nov. 27, 2023) appointed by Governor Evers to fill the vacancy left by Judge Bruce Schroeder’s retirement in 2023. Evers has a history of appointing far-left progressive judges who are soft on crime. While he states publicly that the election is non-partisan, it’s difficult to believe that Evers would have appointed Gagliardi if their values were not aligned. Remember, Governor Evers? The guy who let our hometown burn? There are also unanswered ethical questions regarding Gagliardi’s past experience with the Office of Lawyer Regulation.

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Gagliardi said at a recent debate that he has never been sanctioned by the OLR, but documents previously obtained by KCE suggest otherwise. Gagliardi has told KCE unequivocally that he filled out the paperwork incorrectly as a clerical error. This author, however, isn’t convinced he’s telling the truth.. If he hasn’t been sanctioned, why did he not waive privilege and prove it to the voters? Why did he write almost an entire page of his description of his sanction?

As evidenced by her long list of bipartisan endorsements, the choice is clear for Circuit Court Branch 3 Judge. Heather Iverson will act as a firm and fair arbiter on behalf of Kenosha County residents. She will be tough on crime, and uninfluenced by political agendas. The saying “No justice, no peace” is true. Kenosha cannot live in peace unless we can trust our criminal justice system to prioritize People over politics.

Kenosha needs Heather Iverson. Vote April 2nd .

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56 Responses

  1. I’ve been in front of Commissioner Iverson and she was good. Listened and made a decision – something other commissioners didn’t do.

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      1. It’s impossible for anyone but you to know if you are correct in this case. You are not exactly an unbiased audience since it was your family court case. Did she only take 5 minutes to kick it on to a judge because the case so obviously needed the trial? That would make her extremely useful, not useless.

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    1. Nope. This is not accurate. You do not go in front of multiple commissioners like in Racine. One commissioner handles the case until it goes to the judge. Unless they are on vacation.

    2. Well, one of the other commissioners should consider start looking for another job. Billy after a year on the bench still doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on.

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  2. Commissioner Iverson is fair, experienced, compassionate, and always prepared. She doesn’t let ideology dictate her rulings, and relies on the evidence and people in front of her to inform her decisions. I highly recommend Commissioner Iverson for judge.

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    1. Heather doesn’t know ideology. She and Jody have ZERO understanding… they yell Rule of Law and Stay in your Lane and uninformed voters buy it…

      She is a liberal wolf in sheep’s clothes. Vote for her and reap what you sow

      Also her parents divorced so when she says she grew up with a single mom, she is misrepresenting the facts. If she remotely paid attention in family court, she would know that single moms (or dads) means they were never married. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good sound bite – another thing Angie taught her.

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        1. She’s never been conservative. It is a joke to all of us who know her.

          She was a huge Ruth Bader-Ginsbrrg fan – but don’t let her real history get in the way.

          Too bad Kevin scrubbed the article about her from before this election – also too bad negative comments keep getting deleted…

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      1. That is ridiculous. A single parent is an unmarried parent. There is no definition that states the parent was never married. What an idiot you are.

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      2. Tough shit. You have a guy on anti depressants running intake court and you dare to pick on someone’s childhood?

  3. Obviously the author didn’t attend the forum the other night. Kevin’s story and the comments paint a far different picture. And Catalina ignores the out-of-state dark money smear campaign or the disruption electing Iverson would cause to a court system that’s already strained.

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    1. Yea, let’s rubber stamp Gagliardi to be a judge since he’s already there. Wouldn’t want the burden of changing positions to interfere with the electorate putting in place who THEY choose, not the governors choice. Use that thing between your ears… it’s called a brain.

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      1. And therein lies the problem — making judges more political. A liberal Democrat governor appointed Judge Bruce Schroeder. Judge David Wilk appointed by a Republican governor. Judge Wilbur Warren was appointed by a governor.

        The governor, regardless of who it is, has the duty to fill vacancies. The current governor has a 15-member commission that screens applicants who have to pass a background check as well before being interviewed by the governor. That’s the scrutiny Iverson avoided.

        A better system is where a judicial nomination commission picks judges on merit and the public has the say in a retention election.

      2. Ironically the mechanism used to fill judicial vacancies today is less political and closer to the merit selection process we should have.

        Appointive systems tend to be adaptations of what is known as “merit selection.” A commission evaluates candidates for the open position, identifies as “well-qualified” a prescribed number (or range) of candidates, and submits that list of candidates to the chief executive. In the most effective merit selection systems, this nominating commission is nonpartisan (or bipartisan or multi-partisan, as the case may be).

        In step two, the chief executive chooses the nominee from among the “short list” of candidates submitted by the nominating commission.

        Those jurisdictions that utilize a full-scale merit selection system proceed to step three: After the judge has served for a particular length of time, he or she must stand for “retention election.” Usually, judges run unopposed in retention elections, because the purpose is not to provide a partisan electoral forum for choosing a judge; rather, it is to present the voters with a referendum on the performance of a judge chosen on the basis of merit. By this means, the voters still have a voice in determining their judicial officers.

        Some opponents of merit selection argue that it removes from the people the right to elect their judicial representatives. This language begs a very fundamental question: Under our system of government, are judges truly “representatives,” in the sense that members of the legislative and executive branches are? The legislative branch is certainly designed to represent specific constituencies; to a lesser degree, the executive performs a similar function. But judges, who must apply impartially the laws created by the other two branches—laws that affect opposing constituencies—are expected to remain above the fray. Canons of judicial ethics require them to remain objective, free of political influences, and unfettered by financial concerns.

        Yet, what does the process of judicial election demand? It demands a campaign, usually partisan, which in turn demands that the candidate raise campaign funds and pander to constituencies. Political parties join the fray even in supposedly nonpartisan elections. Judges actively campaign, asked to make promises regarding how they will rule in particular types of cases, and actively solicit the support of interest groups.

        Studies repeatedly show that the voting public is far less knowledgeable about its judicial candidates than it is about candidates for other offices—indeed, many don’t even realize that their state and local judges are elected, instead confusing them with appointed federal judges. Even when voters do realize that their judges are elected, the odds that they know who their incumbent judges—much less their opposing candidates—are tend to be very slim. Voter turnout also tends to be especially low for judicial elections.

        Merit selection—particularly the three-step version—addresses each of these concerns. It eliminates the role of money and significantly reduces the role of politics in judicial selection, and it negates the possibility of conflicts of interest that arise when a campaign contributor (whether lawyer or client) appears before the judge. It provides for selection of highly-qualified judges by representatives of diverse groups of people – legal professionals, members of government, and ordinary citizens, including those who can provide the valuable “outsider’s” view of the non-lawyer. And the public gets its say at the ballot box via the retention election.

        If Wisconsin had a true merit selection system we’d have better judges and less politics.

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  4. Commissioner Iverson has experience in numerous areas of law, is prepared for every hearing, and manages her docket efficiently. Her community involvement and investment in Kenosha County makes her the best choice for judge.

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  5. Conflating the Kenosha riots to this nondescript election is an insult to Kenosha and is in line with the smear campaign that Iverson conveniently disavows. This is a smokescreen.

    Facts: Judge Gagliardi has MORE experience than Iverson practicing law (two years) and his experience is more varied across a broader spectrum of cases rather than the narrow specialty Iverson worked in for many years in the public sector.
    Facts: A court commissioner assists circuit judges performing by performing important tasks as assigned subject to review by the judges. Judge Gagliardi IS a circuit judge; Iverson is a wannabe who inflated and conflated her resume. Judge Gagliardi’s tenure as a circuit judge may be short but it’s more than the wannabe.
    Facts: Neither Gagliardi or Iverson are extreme liberals or conservatives.
    Facts: Here is an excerpt from the alphabetical list of attorneys disciplined by the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation published on its website:

    Fisher, Scott D. Apr 19, 2022 21AP1996-D
    Gill, Cheryl Marie Oct 12, 2022 2022 OLR 7

    Gagliardi is not on the list.

    Facts: Gagliardi applied for appointment as circuit judge to fill the vacancy created when Judge Schroeder retired. The process includes vetting by a 15-member panel including some of the state’s best lawyers and a character and fitness investigation. Iverson did not, avoiding the vetting process.
    Facts: Iverson cozied up to unions. Did she disclose her contributions to former Gov. Scott Walker, the avowed enemy of unions? Which side is she on?

    It’s obvious that Caterina hasn’t done her homework. Now she’s free to like Iverson but to use the analogies she did in the endorsement was a stretch of truth and conflation that undermines her credibility.

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        1. I’ve never seen this website before. That being said I searched for lawyers that I know have multiple public and private reprimands that this website doesn’t show everything. Like Walter Stern and John Anthony Ward. This website is hardly an accurate calculation of private discipline because it doesn’t list attorneys names

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      1. OLR also has diversion programs designed to help attorneys understand and improve – does not result in sanctions. Heather is not the only one who served on OLR committees…

  6. No cars left to sell on both Car Source lots. Just two campaign signs for someone that appears not to live here and probably does not support Law Enforcement.

  7. This is a sick system and I am sorry to be a part of it. The way we cannibalize good people for political gain — not just in this election contest but across the board. It seems the only way to build up one person is to knock another down, justified or not. It turns otherwise good people into behavior that isn’t so good. In the process of trying to demonize the other side we become demons ourselves.

    This hasn’t been about which candidate is better suited but rather ambition. Personal ambition. And then the ambition of a “team” for its objectives. Sometimes it seems the teams aren’t entirely sure of objectives except to win at all costs.

    The old comic strip Pogo once had the line, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” James 4:1-3: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

    Amen.

    1. That is probably a very big reason we have such a shitty pool of candidates to run in every election, on both sides. Who wants to go through it?

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  8. Look at the clown show on full display. Pick me, pick me, I’ll throw your kids in prison on trumped up charges and a DA that’s criminal himself. With no pushback. Fucking cucks! What no jail house snitches to tell the truth.

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  9. If Iverson has to rely on a smear campaign and dirty politics to get elected she has no business deciding ANY cases. And maybe a John Doe investigation to look at corruption in the courthouse.

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      1. Nobody’s jealous.

        Someone needs to investigate her donations – her broke, divorced teacher sister who lives with their mom and has little kids she supoorts had an extra $2000 lying around?!

        Weird that her doctor mom hasn’t donated 2000, which is the max amount. 🤔

        1. And how is Judge Galiardi linked to them? What power did he have?

          What has Graveley and Kenosha law enforcement done? Where is the debriefing about what was done right and wrong? Why charges against Blake dropped? Why did it take so long for the National Guard to get here — and why so few?

  10. If she had been the judge, maybe Kyle Rittenhouse would have had the DA’s charges dismissed before a trial. Maybe she can see self-defense a little more clearly!

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  11. Both candidates have enough experience. I would say Iverson has been much longer on the bench and has much more experience. Iverson is always kind but also fair. On top of the numerous cases she already had on her calendar, she inherited the juvenile cases from Intake.
    We need someone like Iverson, fair but always kind.

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