Johnson winner in circuit court judge race

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Frank Schultz | April 6, 2016

ELKHORN—The winner of the election for Walworth County Circuit Court judge said he wants to heal the divisions the election created in the community.
Voters backed Daniel Johnson for a six-year term.

The unofficial vote total reported Tuesday night was 16,380 for Johnson, or about 54.8 percent of the vote, and 13,360 for Dan Necci, the county's district attorney.

“This obviously was a divisive election, and I don't want the divisiveness to continue,” said Johnson, the county's family court commissioner.

 Johnson said he strongly believes that judges represent everyone in the community, not just those who sided with him or believe in his judicial philosophy.

Johnson said he could help heal the community by making himself available to people,

“almost similar to continuing running my campaign, going out and talking to people and seeing what they want in their new judge.”

The vote came after a hotly contested race with partisan overtones. Necci received endorsements from the four conservative state Supreme Court justices and accused Johnson of being endorsed by the county's Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party said it wasn't endorsing anyone, and Johnson said Necci was lying.

Johnson noted he had supporters who also were Republicans.

Judicial races are officially nonpartisan.

Johnson replaces Judge James Carlson, who is retiring after 37 years on the bench.

Carlson's term ends July 31. Johnson said he understands he is to take over in early August.

Johnson said that, in the meantime, he will continue as family court commissioner. He said the county's judges likely would replace him by majority vote. He did not know if that vote would come before or after Carlson's retirement.

Johnson plans to shadow judges in this part of the state and to take the required state Judicial College training in September.

Necci is coming to the end of his only term as district attorney. He has said he will not run for re-election as DA this fall.

Johnson called his win humbling, and he credited his campaign volunteers.

Asked what he thought resonated with voters, he said: “I think the biggest thing waswe simply ran the campaign our own way, on our own terms and didn't let ourselves get boxed into a negative campaign. We just focused on what I would bring to the table as a judge.”

He continued: “Judges are representatives of the collective consciousness, and people want someone they can relate to, and I think they saw some of that in me.”

Johnson said he expects no difficulty in working with the district attorney's office run by Necci.

“I certainly don't intend on making it a problem,” he said.

Johnson thanked the people of Walworth County for electing him and also his wife and family for their support.

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