Albert Lea man finalist for judge in Austin

Published 11:35am Thursday, April 17, 2014

By Jason Schoonover, Austin Daily Herald

AUSTIN — An Albert Lea lawyer is a finalist to be a Mower County judge.

The Commission on Judicial Selection named Kevin Siefken as a top candidate to fill two judicial vacancies in Mower County District Court of the 3rd Judicial District. Other candidates are Jeff Kritzer, Erin Felten and Eric Woodford. Gov. Mark Dayton will select the two judges in a few weeks after additional interviews.

Kevin Siefken
Kevin Siefken

Judge Fred Wellmann retired earlier this month, and Judge Donald Rysavy will retire in early May. Wellmann is still serving as a retired judge, which Rysavy will do once he retires.

• Siefken is president and shareholder with Albert Lea’s Christian & Peterson, where his caseload includes family law, criminal, civil litigation, child protection and civil commitments.

He also serves as special assistant Albert Lea Attorney and previously was an assistant public defender for the 3rd Judicial District. He worked as a public defender in Austin in the mid- to late 1990s.

Siefken is an advisory board member of the Albert Lea Salvation Army, the president of Habitat for Humanity Freeborn/Mower, an agency representative to the United Way of Freeborn County and a volunteer attorney with the Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services.

“Given the talents on the applications and the other people I know that applied, I feel fortunate to have made it this far,” he said.

Siefken and his wife, Trena, have two children and live in Albert Lea.

• Felten is an attorney and shareholder at Owatonna’s Patton, Hoversten & Berg, where her practice consists of family law, child protection, probate, employment law, corporate matters and criminal defense. Previously, she was an associate at Olup & Associates and she was an associate at Adams, Rizzi & Sween in Austin.

Felten currently serves as a volunteer attorney with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services and is a member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of the Mower County United Way.

“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as a candidate for Gov. Dayton’s consideration for one of the judicial vacancies in Mower County, especially given the high caliber of all the applicants and other finalists,” Felten said in a written statement.

Felten lives in Mower County with her husband, Scott, and their two young children. Scott is an accountant for CliftonLarsonAllen.

• Kritzer is a partner at Austin’s Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner, where his practice focuses on municipal law, employment law, commercial litigation, estate planning, and criminal prosecution for the cities of Austin and Mantorville.

Previously, he was a corporate attorney for Hormel Foods Corp. and an associate attorney for Alderson, Ondov, Leonard, Sween & Rizzi. Kritzer serves on the board of directors and executive committee of the Development Corporation of Austin and is a former member and chair of the Austin Public School Board.

“I’m grateful to the judicial selection commission for selecting me as a finalist, and I’m looking forward to interviewing with Gov. Dayton,” Kritzer said.

Kritzer and his wife, Tammy, have three children. Tammy is an administrator with Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin and Albert Lea.

• Woodford is a team lead attorney in the Olmsted County Attorney’s Office, supervising a team of attorneys while maintaining a caseload of adult criminal matters and handling appeals that arise from that caseload. Previously, he was an associate attorney at Johnson, Larson & Peterson, where he handled criminal defense, family law, civil litigation and estate planning. Woodford is a member of the Operations Committee of the Mayo Clinic Child and Family Advocacy Center and a volunteer with Channel One Regional Food Bank.

Minnesota’s 3rd Judicial District comprises Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca and Winona counties.

Woodford declined to comment.