Attorney Jill Karofsky was elected in Tuesday’s municipal election to the only contested Dane County Judge seat, filling the vacancy of 17-year incumbent Judge David Flanagan.
Karofsky earned 57.6 percent of votes, leaving her opponent Marilyn Townsend with just over 40 percent.
The jurisdiction of the Dane County Circuit Court, Branch 12, encompasses criminal cases including sexual assault, domestic violence and homicides. Both candidates vowed during the campaign to pursue restorative justice initiatives and alternatives to incarceration such as drug and alcohol or mental health treatment.
Karofsky said during her campaign that addressing racial disparity in Dane County is one of her top priorities. She plans to do that by considering bias in setting bail, seeking alternatives to incarceration and working with communities to develop solutions to their problems.
Running on her knowledge of criminal law, Karofsky frequently highlighted her experience dealing with more than 10,000 criminal cases in Dane County and 25 years of experience in the criminal justice system.
Karofsky is the Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services in the state Department of Justice. She has also served as a Deputy District Attorney and was the first Violence against Women Resource Prosecutor in the state’s Department of Justice.
Hundreds of attorneys, judges and community leaders endorsed Karofsky, including Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell and Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. Both candidates were backed by several labor activists.
“While the result tonight is not what we had hoped, I remain steadfast in my belief that Dane County has a lot of work ahead of it in ensuring that all individuals are heard in the court,” Townsend said in a statement. “I will continue to seek justice for the little guy as a union and civil rights lawyer and will remain committed to giving the individuals who come before me in Municipal Court a fair shake.”