Herald Journal - Voters' Guide '08

Two races are set in Wright County, otherwise unopposed judges fill ballot

Each election, voters fill out ballots that are filled with a list of judgeships available.

Most judges in district court are appointed by the governor; however, a handful of them are elected or challenged when they run as incumbents, and true races are generally few and far between.

However, there are two such races in District 10, which includes Wright County:

  • Nancy Logering versus Luke Stellpflug
  • John Dehen versus Robert Varco

Voters there will help decide who serves as judge in district court there.

The district area for judges encompasses several counties and may result in voters casting ballots for judges who actually live quite far away.

For example, Wright County is served by several judges in the 10th District, which includes eight counties, reaching as far north as Pine County and east all the way to the Wisconsin border.

Other than this, local voters will see a long list of incumbents looking for re-election.

Two races in the Tenth District (Wright Co.)

The Tenth Judicial District consists of the counties of Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright.

Forty-five judges serve the district, which is the second largest of Minnesota’s ten judicial districts. There are 18 positions that need to be filled with judges on the November ballot, but only two true races, with the remainder being made up of incumbents on the bench who are unopposed.

Judge Nancy Logering faces her second challenge from attorney Luke Stellpflug of St. Paul (the prior one was when she was last up for election six years ago), according to Minnesota Lawyer.

The second race in District 10 features Judge Robert P. Varco of Anoka faces a challenge from St. Paul attorney John P. Dehen.

Profiles of these races follows, from information posted on the Minnesota Judicial Branch web site. Profiles of incumbents who are unopposed follow, but are only a small sample of the credentials listed for most candidates.

Logering vs. Stellpflug race

Nancy Logering serves in Anoka County. She attended the William Mitchell College of Law, and before that, College of St. Benedict. For employment, she worked at the Sherburne County Attorney Office from 1987-2000, and prior to then, the Renville County Attorney Office.

She is a member of the National Association of Women Judges, and International Association of Women Judges, as well as a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society

Luke Stellpflug attended the Hamline University School of Law, and University of Wisconsin. He is a private practice attorney, and has been since 2003.

He has worked many years in the Minnesota 10th District Public Defender’s Office in various positions. In the 10th Judicial District, he was a law clerk to Judge Thomas G. Armstrong and Judge

Kenneth J. Maas. For community activities, he has the following two items listed: Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program and Meals On Wheels Association of America

Varco vs. Dehen race

Robert Varco attended the William Mitchell College of Law, and University of Minnesota. He serves as a judge in the Minnesota 10th Judicial District and has done so since 2000. Before then, he was an attorney at Berglund & Varco from 1981-2000. He has acted as an associate professor and university counsel for the University of South Dakota School of Law, associate professor and university counsel, 1978-81, and assistant professor and director of the legal writing and advocacy program for the Hamline University School of Law.

He is a member of Ducks Unlimited, takes pare in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and is a member of the Sherburne County Law Library

“Public service has always been a strong component of my career, and the switch from advocate to judge was a natural progression,” he told Minnesota Lawyer.

Varco is very concerned about the court’s budget crisis. “The budget is on everybody’s mind. [The situation] gets worse every day. We’re doing well with less [but] we’re very, very busy. We’re trying to cope with it,” Minnesota Lawyer also quoted him saying.

Dehen was born in Minneapolis, and come from a family of nine children. His specialties are adoption and family law. “I was taught to give my full effort and strive for excellence in whatever I pursue,” according to his web site http://johndehenforjudge.com/. “As a youth soccer coach for a number of years, I know the importance of parental involvement and discipline in the lives of children.

Parental input in the lives of their children is essential when the family encounters the services of the court. Judicial intervention into family decisions is to be exercised with caution and only when necessary.”

He attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD and was academic all conference in wrestling. Also, he was a member of Blue Key National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA).

Incumbents without opposition

The following are incumbents who are running unopposed as judges in the fall election.


Susan Miles of Scandia serves in Washington County. She is lead judge for the Washington County Children’s Justice Initiative, speaking to classes and civic groups, according to her web site: www.susanmiles.com

Lawrence Johnson of Coon Rapids serves in Anoka County. He graduated from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, 1966-67, Phi Eta Sigma, academic honor society and attended Rochester State Jr. College, Rochester, Minnesota.

Doug Meslow of White Bear Lake is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and St. Olaf. He’s acted as an instructor at the U of M, for the School of Mortuary Science. He’s a former legislator in the state house of representatives.

Judge Richard Ilkka of Oak Park Heights serves in Washington County. He has more than 20 years of courtroom experience. He’s been a recipient of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) award of recognition in 1994 for prosecution of DWI offenders. 

Judge Karla Hancock of Andover serves in Sherburne County. He is a member of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee-guardian ad litem program, Sherburne County District court bench, Sherburne County criminal justice coordinating committee. He’s also been active in Anoka County with and the 4-HAnoka County Girl Scouts

Kenneth Jorgensen of West Lakeland serves in Washington County. He has also served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Minnesota and Hamline Law Schools. He received the Minnesota State Bar Association, “Professional Excellence Award,” in 2006.

Tammi Fredrickson of Minneapolis serves in Anoka. She is a frequent community speaker. She graduated from the William Mitchell College of Law, J.D. (magna cum laude) in 1992.

Dale Mossey of Buffalo serves in Wright County. He attended University of Minnesota Law School and B.A., Grinnell College, is a former vice president of Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association and former dean of Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers.

B. William Ekstrum of Fridley serves in Washington County. He is chair of the Washington County Juvenile Justice Committee, lead judge for the Children’s Justice Initiative, and past chair of the Anoka County Domestic Violence Justice Committee. He is also part of the Lake Wobegon Brass Band and Encore Wind Ensemble.

Barry Sullivan of Coon Rapids serves in Washington County. He attended Hamline University School of Law (cum laude). He taught POST-approved training of police officers in the areas of DUI and domestic violence.

Thomas Hayes of Big Lake serves in Sherburne County. He attended Concordia College-Moorhead, 1973, B.A., magna cum laude. He has worked in the law department of Lutheran Brotherhood.

Ellen Maas of White Bear Lake serves in Anoka County. She received a degree with distinction from University of Iowa College of Law. She is on the Supreme Court Advisory- Committee on General Rules of Practice, and Uniform Local Rules Task Force. She also happens to be a bassoonist for Kenwood Chamber Orchestra,

Alan Pendleton serves in Anoka County. He attended Drake University Law School (cum laude). He has lectured extensively on topics ranging from state and constitutional law, warrantless motor vehicle searches and search warrants, and law enforcement practices and procedures

James Reuter of Wyoming, MN, serves in Pine County. He attended Hamline University School of Law. He is part of the Tenth Judicial District Bias Elimination Team, and is a youth athletic coach for Forest Lake Hockey Association.

Gregory Galler of Lake Elmo serves in Washington County. He received his education from the University of Minnesota Law School (cum laude); and has been a past president of the Washington County and 19th District Bar Associations

Jonathan Jasper of Anoka serves in Wright County. He attended Cornell Law School, and Hamline University. He has been a judge in the 10th Judicial District from 2005 to the present. He is a member of the Andover Planning Commission, and of Minnesota Stand Down.

Lawrence Johnson serves in Anoka County. He graduated from Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. In the past, he’s been a guest speaker/teacher at Fridley, Anoka and Coon Rapids high schools.

Kenneth Jorgensen serves in Washington County. He has been with the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility for more than 20 years. He was named “Professional Excellence Award” 2006 by the Minnesota State Bar Association.