It’s Official: McKenna First Municipal Judge
Left, Alderwoman Joanne Suomi questioned McKenna’s ability to effectively balance his fulltime county job with part-time job as municipal court judge. (City-Times photo)
Fulltime Lawyer for County Gets Stamp of Approval as Part-Time Municipal Judge
By Brandi Makuski
The Stevens Point Common Council Monday night approved appointing Mike McKenna as the first judge to preside over a new municipal court.
McKenna, who currently serves as Corporation Counsel for Portage County, was one of three applicants for the position who interviewed last week before a court oversight committee chaired by Mayor Andrew Halverson.
Halverson said the five- member committee, comprised of leaders from Stevens Point and Plover, chose McKenna mainly because of his experience with administration and understanding of municipal law.
“He also displayed an intense interest in making sure objectivity was displayed, as well as a willingness to make a very warm, welcoming environment- that was a huge piece of the city’s and the village’s point of view,” said Mayor Andrew Halverson.
The new court has joint jurisdiction between the city and the Village of Plover, where officials approved McKenna’s appointment last week without discussion. The court will oversee first offense OWI, traffic violations and other municipal ordinance violations and will require less expensive fines for violations. Tickets for the new court could be written as soon as May, with the court in operation by June.
McKenna will earn $12,000 a year for the part-time spot at municipal judge and will likely hold hearings after regular business hours.
Discussion of McKenna’s appointment was short Monday, with only one Council Member asking if McKenna could fairly balance his county job with the part-time spot as municipal judge.
“Could you explain how you’re going to balance your fulltime position with the county with this municipal court judge position?” asked Alderwoman Joanne Suomi, who also sits on the court’s oversight committee. “You’re only going to be available at night? How flexible will you be?”
McKenna said he had previous discussion with Peter Kastenholz, who also served simultaneously as both Wood County Corporation Counsel as well as municipal court judge.
“He has court only on Wednesday nights, and he has indicated to me there have never been any issues,” McKenna said. “I’m very confident I’ll be able to balance everything fairly.
Two other applicants had been considered for the position: Zachary T. Krogman of Krogman Family Law Office on Main Street, and Melissa Dalkert, Portage Co. Assistant Family Court Commissioner who also has a private practice in Park Ridge.
McKenna has served as Corporation Counsel for Portage County for 16 years.