The race for the next Marquette County Probate Judge is heating up ahead of the August primary.
Five candidates are vying to succeed current Judge Michael Anderegg, who's stepping down after 35 years on the bench.
Anderegg's decision to retire at the end of his six-year term is significant, as talk in Lansing continues about cutting judgeships across the state.
"We're in a position right now in Marquette County where, if I had retired before the end of the term, we might have lost a judgeship, and I think that would not have been a good thing for us," explained Anderegg.
The probate court handles a variety of sensitive topics, from estates of the deceased to cases involving child welfare.
Anderegg says he's not endorsing any of the candidates ahead of the primary, but he does stress the importance of having recent experience.
"A lot of what I do involves the abuse and neglect cases; that's a highly specialized area," Anderegg said. "It's an area that's changing very fast. I think recent experience is a very important qualification. Most of the people running do have that kind of experience."
Anderegg, 67, says he will keep busy with teaching and in public service. But his decision to hang up the robe did not come easy.
"Somebody asked me once if it was exciting, and I said exciting is the wrong word, but it's never boring," Anderegg said. "I have a chance to try and make a difference in people's lives, and that's an opportunity that not everybody gets."
The public will be able to get to know the candidates running in an open forum July 24 at the Peter White Public Library.
The primary on August 7 will narrow down the pool of candidates to two before voters pick the next Marquette County Probate Judge in November.