One has been a private practice attorney for the past 40 years while the other is an Eau Claire County Court judge.
But both say they have the right type of qualifications and backgrounds that make them the best choice to represent northern Wisconsin on the 3rd District Court of Appeals.
Attorney Mark Seidl of Wausau and Judge Kristina Bourget of Eau Claire are candidates in the April 7 election for the appeals court seat being vacated by the retiring Judge Michael Hoover.
Seidl, 68, said his 40 years of private practice — which has concentrated on civil lawsuits, family and elder law, real estate, estate planning and probate — has been based almost exclusively in Wisconsin law.
“I have more experience there,” he said.
Hoover is from Wausau. The other two members of the 3rd District Court of Appeals — which is based in Wausau — are Thomas Hruz of Minocqua and Lisa Stark of Eau Claire. Seidl said his election would keep a central Wisconsin presence on the three-member panel.
“My election would maintain the same geographical balance on the court,” he said.
Bourget, 50, said her judicial experience has allowed her to preside over and rule on a wide variety of cases involving criminal, civil and family law.
“I have addressed the issues the appellate court analyzes and rules on,” she said. “Through my experience as a sitting judge, I appreciate the implications made by the decisions the appellate court issues.”
Bourget also cited her broad experience as a private practice attorney, which included working for Xcel Energy for 11 years as a member of its office of general counsel. She participated in numerous cases before the Public Service Commission, state Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Many appeals come from administrative agencies, and that gives me a unique perspective,” she said.
Seidl was raised in Stanley and Medford. His father, Peter Seidl, was the Taylor County circuit court judge from 1962 to 1980.
Before going to law school, Seidl was a teacher for three years at Brillion and Manitowoc high schools and a college teacher for one year at UW-Richland Center.
Bourget was appointed by Gov. Scott Walker in summer 2013 to fill Eau Claire County’s Branch 1 seat that was vacated when Stark left to join the District 3 Court of Appeals.
Since 2010 Bourget practiced with her husband at Bourget Law in Eau Claire, where she represented clients before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She began her career in criminal defense and civil litigation at Kelly & Ryberg in Eau Claire.
Seidl said his father was a judge primarily during his formative years as a high school, college and law school student.
“He inspired me to one day become a judge myself,” Seidl said. “After 40 years in private practice, I’d like to use my experience to make decisions on the Court of Appeals. It’s time to move onto public service with the court.”
“I come from a family of attorneys, all who have great respect for the court system, and I would like to be a part of the court system,” Seidl said.
The reasons Bourget and Seidl want to become an appellate judge are similar.
“I am one of those few people who absolutely loved law school,” Bourget said.
“I love analyzing legal issues. And studying and analyzing the law is what the appeals court is all about,” she said.
“My primary strength has been in legal research and writing,” Seidl said.
Bourget said her variety of professional and judicial experience set her apart from her opponent.
“My reputation as a judge has been to be prepared, respectful, objective, fair and faithful to the rule of law,” she said.
What separates himself from Bourget, Seidl said, is independence in that he did not actively seek endorsements from sitting judges.
“The job of the Court of Appeals is to determine whether those same judges ruled correctly,” he said. “I didn’t want to compromise that independence.”
Holtz can be reached at 715-833-9207, 800-236-7077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Address: Eau Claire.
Occupation:ourt judge. Eau Claire County C Branch 1
Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance at UW-Eau Claire in 1988 and law degree from UW-Madison in 1991.
Family: Husband, Anthony; four children.
Occupation: Private practice attorney specializing in family law, elder law, real estate, probate, business and estate planning.
Education: Bachelor’s degree at UW-Eau Claire in 1968 and law degree from UW-Madison in 1974.
Family: Wife, Judi; three children and seven grandchildren.