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Judge candidates Cameron and Gherty eye April 1 election

The large turnout for the primary election last week has added to the interest in the race for the new Branch 4 St. Croix County Circuit Court judge seat.

Hudson attorney Mark Gherty and Howard Cameron, a public defender who lives in Hudson, won the two spots for the April 1 election among five candidates.

Gherty collected the most total votes with 4,593; Cameron had 3,074. Rounding out the field were Hudson attorneys Carol Law, 2,395, and Charles Harris, 2,107, and Assistant District Attorney Ken Sortedahl of Spring Valley, 1,500.

Gherty topped Cameron in all areas of the county except the town of Hudson, where the unofficial results show Cameron garnered 509 votes compared with 486 for the longtime Hudson attorney.

"I am encouraged and excited," said Gherty about the results. "I am also really humbled."

With less than six weeks until the spring elections, Gherty said that he doesn't see any change in his campaign strategy. "I don't see us doing anything different," he said.

"The results were just about what we expected in the primary," said Cameron. "We wanted to finish in the top two and continue on to the general election in April.

As far as his campaign goes, Cameron said, "We'll just tweak it a little bit, try to walk about and meet the people, get the message out."

Gherty would like more public involvement in the race. "I would like to see more candidate forums," he said and suggested that the St. Croix County Bar Association could sponsor one.

An equally big turnout for the spring election is probably unrealistic, but there are a number of local elections and referendums throughout the county that may help boost the numbers.

Some 26 percent of the eligible voters went to the polls Feb. 19 compared with 14 percent for the last primary election in 2004. A close race on the Democratic presidential ticket between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was a major contributing factor.

There were 15,395 who voted in the primary compared with 7,234 in 2004.

We expect about 11,000 will turnout for the general election," said Cameron. "The big thing is to get people out to the polls."

"I hope everybody comes out and votes," Gherty said.

The unknown factor is how will the 6,000 ballots cast for the other three candidates in the primary transfer over to the April 1 election and who will benefit the most from them, Gherty or Cameron?