When Minnesota voters flip over their ballots this election, they will find columns of judicial races from the county courts to the state's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

But of the 105 judicial seats up for election, only one is contested. It's held by Scott County Judge Charles Webber, who was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz in May 2021 and is facing his first election.

The seat is in the First Judicial District, which includes the counties of Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley in the southern Twin Cities suburbs. Judicial candidates can't talk about issues that could come before the court, but any lawyer can run in the district where they live, and that's what Matthew R. Hanson of Prior Lake is doing.


Webber, 56, said he sought appointment to the bench so he could create the same nurturing, collaborative environment his mentors did for him. He described learning from "judges who wanted to get to the right answer but they also wanted to be cordial and polite with one another."

The judge was a partner at Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath in Minneapolis, where he tried civil cases for three decades. His work ranged from his first solo trial, involving a Renville County farmer whose heifers had been taken, to an international tax income tax dispute.

"I did a nice wide variety of stuff that gave me a great background for what I do know," Webber said. He pitches himself as "experienced and independent." He's trying to get the word out through his campaign website, online ads, lawn signs and savvy friends.

Webber, a New Hope native, earned his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Minnesota and his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

His challenger grew up in Prior Lake, earned an undergraduate degree from Concordia University in St. Paul and a J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in 2018. Hanson, 31, said he's campaigning fulltime, not practicing law. He said his legal work has included research, trusts, estates and commercial litigation.

He agreed to answer questions only by email and didn't respond when asked whether he had tried a case. Hanson's campaign site is a Twitter account. He described his election strategy as "speaking directly with voters."

Hanson wrote that he ran against Webber because the judge went to law school in Chicago and "appears to have no apparent ties" to Scott County. "Justice is best served when judges live in and have a deep understanding of the people in the county where they sit," Hanson said.

In response, Webber said, "I think the folks in Scott County, which is located a few hundred yards away from my [Lakeville] house, are not markedly different from the people that I've gotten to know in this community having lived here the past 31 years."