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Meet The Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 47 Candidates

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There’s an election next Tuesday, and one of the contested races is for an open seat in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

The Branch 47 race is between Fox Point Municipal Judge Scott Wales and Attorney Kristy Yang.

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Lake Effect's Mitch Teich with Fox Point Municipal Judge, Scott Wales.

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Lake Effect's Mitch Teich with Milwaukee attorney Kristy Yang.

Scott Wales is currently an attorney in private practice and municipal judge in Fox Point. He was born with a defect called Meobius Syndrome, a type of congenital facial paralysis or palsy, and explains how his disability has influenced his practice: "I've lived through it and proud of who I am...and so whatever I experienced as a child from bullying, to being misunderstood, and not even being able to articulate, in my own way I like to think that I've dealt with each challenge."

Wales was unable to talk clearly until the age of 12, and that struggle to be heard inspired him to "speak for the voiceless" in his legal career. He says most of his clients are people of color, or those who are indigent or have low-incomes. Wales says these clients and their cases have shaped his skill set, and he hopes the trust he has built with the community can continue into a career at the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

"In all my years as a judge...no one’s ever filed a judicial complaint. So I’d like to think that it reflects consistency and I’d like to believe I’ve certainly communicated, I hope, empathy for everyone who’s in front of me," Wales says.

Kristy Yang is a Milwaukee area attorney in private practice,who credits her work ethic to her parents. Her family emigrated to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Laos when Yang was six-years-old. Yang grew up in a family with ten siblings, and she says they were able to adjust to their new life in America thanks to the generosity and kindness of the people around them.

"I have a true appreciation for the humanity in all of us," she says. "When I advocate for people, it is very important for me to of course deliver competent, good service. But at the same time, there's the humanity component to every case and that's so crucial."

Yang had dreamed of going to law school since she was in high school, but she thought it was unlikely and unaffordable for her family. But she hit a turning point while working at Kohler, and decided to pursue her ambition of going to law school.

Yang believes that to truly help people now, she needs to become a judge. As an advocate, her authority is limited to her clients, but "as a judge, that's precisely what the law requires of me - is to be fair."

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.