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O’Marro focused on opioid epidemic and lack of attorneys in run for Vilas County Circuit Court Judge

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Meg O'Marro
Meg O'Marro is running for Vilas County Circuit Court Judge Branch II.

On April 5th, voters in Vilas County will elect a second judge for the first time. The county got state approval for a second judge last year.

Meg O’Marro says she’ll be bringing over 29 years of legal experience to Vilas County if she’s elected as the new judge.

Wednesday on WXPR, you learned about the other candidate running for the position, Daniel Overbey.

During O’Marro’s legal career, she’s worked as Assistant Corporation Counsel for Vilas County, Assistant District Attorney for Milwaukee County, and as a private attorney for her own general practice law firm working in 17 areas of law.

But she says it’s her experience as a single mother raising five children that will help make her a good judge.

“Kids think that you teach them things, but in reality, they taught me and made me very humble and made me appreciate the trials and struggles other people go through. I think that history will help me become an amazing judge. I am a compassionate person and have devoted my whole career to helping people,” said O’Marro.

O’Marro decided to run for Vilas County judge after she was approached by some county board members and retired Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.

“They admired the work I did for Vilas County, and they believe I would be an excellent judge. So after discussing this with my five children and giving it deep consideration, I decided to throw my hat in the ring,” said O’Marro.

Like her opponent, Daniel Overbey, O’Marro recognizes drug abuse a top issue she’ll have to deal with on the bench if elected.

Both support the creation of a drug court which is something the county started the process of creating at the end of last year.

O’Marro says she practiced criminal defense for over a decade in southeast Wisconsin and saw the impacts of drug abuse in many of her clients.

O’Marro said they’d get sober in jail, only to be released with little to no guidance.

“They’re let go and say, ‘Okay. You go follow the rules.’ And they’re not given any of the tools sobriety, to get treatments for their mental health issues. A lot of these people who abuse they have significant trauma that has occurred in their life. They’re self-medicating that trauma with drugs or alcohol. They also often have mental health issues. They don’t have the money to address those mental health issues so they use,” said O’Marro.

She wants to see a drug treatment court in the county that will help people with both their addiction and the root causes of it, like mental health.

O’Marro believes this focus will improve not only the lives of the person going through the drug treatment program, but the community as a whole.

“This affects everyone. It effects the individual who’s abusing. It affects their kids, it affects their families. It affects the kids when you have kids coming to school under the influence and teachers have to take time away. It really taps into law enforcement resources. The biggest challenge is going to be combating the epidemic we have with drugs and alcohol abuse,” she said.

Whoever is elected will also have the added challenge of opening a new branch.

O’Marro believes one of the biggest challenges the branch two judge will face is the lack of attorneys in the county. Overbey also recognized this as an issue.

O’Marro would like to Vilas County adopt a help desk to assist people who want to represent themselves.

“Lawyers from the bar are required to donate maybe an hour of their time a month just to go over a pro-say litigants’ pleadings, advise them what things to bring to court so that when then go into the courtroom, they know what to expect. They have everything they need so that they’re case isn’t dismissed so that they receive justice. Right now there’s backlogs because of pro-say litigation. I think we can nip that in the bud,” said O’Marro.

Voters in Vilas County will see O’Marro’s name alongside Overbey’s on the April 5th ballot.

Current Judge Milanowski will also be on the ballot for Vilas County Circuit Court Judge Branch I. She is running unopposed.

Voters elect Circuit Court judges to serve six-year terms in nonpartisan elections. There is no term limit.

You can learn more about Daniel Overbey here.

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