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Meet the candidates: Michael Schiek for Oneida County Judge

Two Oneida County Circuit Court Judge candidates will advance from next week’s primary to the April Ballot.

Earlier this week on WXPR, you heard from Judge Mary Burns and Oneida County Corporation Counsel Mike Fugle.

Today, WXPR’s Katie Thoresen introduces us to Oneida County District Attorney Michael Schiek.

Michael Schiek worked for a decade at a private law firm in Rhinelander covering a wide range of cases from criminal to small claims before becoming the Oneida County District Attorney in 2012.

After nearly 11 years of serving as District Attorney, Schiek says becoming a judge is the next logical step in his career path.

“It’s the next step, but I also think I’m ready for it. I think that’s important to understand too. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if could I be a judge, I would say, ‘I’m probably not ready yet. I don’t have enough of the experience under my belt to qualify and to take on such an important role.’ Now I think that’s different because I’ve seen a lot. I haven’t done it all, but I’ve seen a lot and been involved with a lot.”

While Schiekgrew up in Rhinelander, he says it was important for him to leave and experience the world through his time as a Marine and pursuing higher education. The judge position would be an extension of that civil service.

“It’s been a constant for me to try and help make a difference. I think that the judge is obviously a very big responsibility. I think that for me that’s the next step. It’s really just part of continuing with Oneida County and continuing with that civil service,” said Schiek.

Schiek says because of those experiences, along with his work in the community and the large amount of time he spent in front of judges all across the state, he’s learned to be patient and fair. Two key qualities he believes a judge needs.

“It’s a very important reason to be in front of somebody. You start a lawsuit, you’ve hired an attorney, but it can be stressful, and you just want your day in court. I think for a judge to be fair, patient, listen to the law, and apply it. Listen to the facts and apply it that way,” he said.

Through his time as District Attorney, Schiek says the lack of public defenders has presented the biggest challenge to Oneida County’s justice system.

It’s led to delays in prosecuting cases because defendants can’t find someone to represent them, which in turn also means victims wait longer for justice.

Schiek says the issue comes down to money.

“I don’t want to over-generalize because that’s an easy out. It’s difficult to compete with other law firms and the things that they can offer,” said Schiek.

Despite that challenge, Schiek says the courtrooms in Oneida County run efficiently because of the groundwork done by previous judges.

“The judges, Judge Bloom and Judge O’Melia, and before them Judge Mangerson, Judge Kinney, they did a nice job in kind of setting precedent on how to run a smooth courtroom. I would just like to continue that. I haven’t found anything that I would earmark as substantial changes,” said Schiek.

The primary election is Tuesday, February 21.

While the February primary traditionally sees very low voter turnout, Schiek hopes voters will turn out to vote.

He says he and the other candidates have worked their professional careers for an opportunity like this.

“People should understand that we’ve worked very hard to get here, so it’s important to go out and vote. If people understand that, take a minute to listen to the interviews like this, maybe they know us through our history. It’s important. Out of the three of us running, only two are going to move forward to the April 4th election, so it’s just getting out there and voting,” said Schiek.

Follow the links to learn more about the candidates: Judge Mary Burns and Oneida County Corporation Counsel Mike Fugle.

You can also learn more about all three candidates at Vote411.org.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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