Grand Traverse County residents have two well-qualified candidates running for Probate Court Judge, Melanie Stanton and Kirsten Keilitz, and their campaigns have stressed their legal and life experiences.
Stanton has cited her 20-plus years in the law and her prior career as a nurse; Keilitz has talked about her years as an attorney and her three years as Juvenile and Family Division referee for the 13th Circuit Court and Grand Traverse County.
Experience counts. But there's a lot more to this job than that — the intangibles that are so crucial in probate court, where family issues, abuse cases and more are decided: compassion, common sense, respect and the courage to do what's best even when that may cause heartache.
On that scale, we believe Kirsten Keilitz has the demeanor and emotional balance needed to take on a difficult job and serve those who come before her fairly and honestly.
We're not alone. Three years ago Keilitz was chosen unanimously by 13th Circuit Court and Family Division judges to serve full-time as 13th Circuit Domestic Relations Referee and Grand Traverse Juvenile and Family Division Referee. So far, she's gotten great reviews.
We're not concerned that Keilitz's husband Ron Schuknecht works as a bankruptcy attorney at a local law firm. Keilitz has said she'll disqualify herself if there's a potential conflict.
Keilitz got unanimous support when she was named Referee and has also gotten overwhelming backing from the legal community for her campaign in ads and letters to the editorial pages of the Record-Eagle. While some folks may look warily at lawyer endorsements, there is a clear sense she has the respect of those who have dealt with her on both sides of the bench.
Keilitz brings experience, a down-to-earth demeanor and real conviction to a difficult job. She has our endorsement.