BELOIT - A more candid, outspoken approach.
That's how one of the three candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court is looking to reach voters and stand out ahead of the Feb. 20 primary race.
Madison attorney Tim Burns, 54, doesn't shy away from his progressive background when it comes to handling his campaign.
Through the law firm of Perkins Coie, Burns represented businesses and individuals, and he hopes to continue to protect Wisconsin families and small businesses if elected to the Supreme Court.
He has received multiple endorsements from left-leaning groups, including the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and recently netted the first union endorsement of the three candidates.
Burns faces conservative-backed Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock and moderate Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet. The trio look to replace Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gabelman, who chose to forgo another 10-year term in 2017.
Burns stressed a key issues facing the court and society in general is the concentration of wealth in the United States and the "destruction" of small businesses and diverse communities. Protecting natural resources and ensuring equal protections from race, as well as gender identity and sexual orientation are also key issues for Burns, if elected, he said.
"How we answer to those things as a society will be critical for what the future looks like for our children," the father of three said. Burns lives in Middleton with his wife of over 20 years, Pam.
When pressed on whether or not his outspoken values would influence his decisions, Burns said he would decide state law equally between both conservative and liberal causes.
"I will not as a judge, decide the law means one thing for conservatives and one thing for liberals," Burns stressed.
He also criticized the nonpartisan label placed on judicial races.
"It's asinine to say that races are impartial and to act like judges are umpires when they have a much larger role in society as a whole," Burns said.
The state's highest court is currently at a 5 to 2 conservative majority, with Burns noting the court's ability to hand-pick issues as a key way for shaping Wisconsin's economic, social and political climate.
Burns said the current makeup of the court was an "abysmal failure" in how the court has influenced the state's economy and other factors.
The longtime attorney has been outspoken on social media criticizing President Donald Trump, while speaking out on issues ranging from Wisconsin's redistricting to sexual harassment and voter identification.
Burns believes that his frank nature will strike through to voters, noting that he views Screnock as his biggest adversary, while dismissing Dallet's push to occupy the center.
"I think the benefit of running a non-traditional judicial campaign is that voters see the authenticity and understand the key issues and where you stand on them," Burns said. "It comes to down to motivating a grassroots movement."
He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Weber State and his juris doctorate from the University of Missouri.
For more on Burns, visit burnsforwisconsin.com.