GENESEE COUNTY — Court Referee Stephanie Witucki and family law attorney Elizabeth Kelly have joined the crowded race for two vacant 7th District Circuit Court judicial seats during this year’s election cycle.
Witucki and Kelly are among nine candidates who are seeking election. The other non-incumbent candidates are local lawyers Chris Christenson, Glenn Cotton, Tabitha Marsh, Richard McNally, Brian Pickell, Marvin Jennings Jr. and K.C. Baran.
Witucki announced her candidacy on April 17 upon filing nomination petitions. Kelly made her candidacy announcement on April 23.
Each candidate was asked to respond to these two questions: “What do you feel are your strongest qualifications to be a Circuit Court judge in this county?” and “What would you say to a voter, who was backing one of your opponents, to change his or her mind and vote for you?”
Witucki said that her strongest qualifications are based on her experience as a licensed attorney for more than 20 years. She also cited her position as Chief Domestic Relations Referee for the Third Judicial Circuit Court-Family Division.
“As a Referee for the past eight years, I have demonstrated that I have the proper judicial temperament to serve our Genesee County community in a judicial capacity,” Witucki said. “I start my docket timely, actively listen to the litigants in court, show compassion and apply the law as well as common sense.”
Witucki said that her current position within the circuit court system will also persuade voters to vote for her over the other candidates.
“Although all of the candidates, myself included, have a number of years of experience practicing law and have provided service to our community in a variety of important ways, I am the only candidate running for one of the two non-incumbent judicial positions who has already been presiding over cases from a circuit court docket for the past eight years,” she said. “I have a strong work ethic and would not take this position lightly.”
Witucki has been a Domestic Relations Referee for the past eight years. She received her law degree from Wayne State University in 1996 and was an attorney in a general practice law firm for approximately 14 years.
Witucki grew up in Flint and has been a longtime resident of Genesee County. She has been married for 24 years and has three children.
Kelly, a licensed attorney who’s practiced in Genesee County for over a decade, said that her background in family law makes her well-qualified for one of the district’s judicial seats. She’s represented children as a Guardian ad Litem in custody, abuse and neglect in juvenile criminal cases, and has served as a mediator.
“I am the only candidate with family law experience in Genesee County,” she said. “I have represented families in all aspects of Family Court from divorce, child custody, child support, paternity and cases involving the abuse and neglect of children.”
Working with the late Hon. Robert E. Weiss, Kelly helped to establish Baby Court—a specialty court that that offers services to parents of young children.
“Baby Court either teaches them how to be parents (many of the young parents were raised in foster care themselves) or we bring a much quicker close to these cases so that these babies are not raised in foster care,” she said.
Kelly cited her experience in the family court system as a persuasion point for voters, as well as endorsements she’s received from current family law judges, Hon. Michael J. Theile and Hon. David J. Newblatt. She also said her endorsements from the United Auto Workers (UAW) and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights makes her the candidate of choice for organized labor.
Kelly received her law degree from Michigan State University in 2007 and her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan-Flint in 2004. She and her husband are residents of Linden.
The statewide 2018 primary is Aug. 7.