With the departure of four sitting municipal court judges, Lucas County voters will have a larger-than-usual slate of candidates to consider for judicial seats on Nov. 7.
In Toledo Municipal Court, three candidates are vying to replace Judge Robert Christiansen, who has been on the bench since 2006. Democrat Dale Emch and Republicans Nicole Khoury and Hank Schaefer III are seeking the post.
Mr. Emch, 53, is a lawyer in private practice, while Ms. Khoury, 40, has a private law practice and works as a public defender in Sylvania and Maumee municipal courts. Mr. Schaefer, 42, is an assistant city prosecutor.
Two candidates — Republican Jim Anderson and Democrat Joe Howe — are vying for the Toledo Municipal Court bench to be vacated by retiring Judge C. Allen McConnell, who has presided over Municipal Court’s housing and environmental court since 2000.
Mr. Anderson, 48, has had a private law practice since 2011 but worked as Judge McConnell’s law clerk and bailiff from 2007 to 2010. Mr. Howe, 46, works as an assistant city prosecutor in the housing division.
The housing court hears civil and criminal cases that involve local building, housing, health and safety codes, and landlord/tenant issues.
All municipal court judges handle misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases, civil cases with less than $15,000 at issue, as well as felony arraignments.
Voters in the jurisdiction served by Sylvania Municipal Court — which includes the city of Sylvania; the villages of Berkey and Holland; Sylvania, Richfield, Spencer, and Harding townships, and the portions of Swanton, Monclova, and Springfield townships that lie north of the Ohio Turnpike — have five choices to replace retiring Judge M. Scott Ramey. Judge Ramey has been on the bench for 30 years.
Running for the post in Sylvania are Democrat Michael Bonfiglio and Republicans Daniel Ellis, Chris McGowan, Anthony Spinazze, and John Thebes.
Mr. Bonfiglio, 62, works as bar counsel for the Toledo Bar Association. Mr. Ellis, 60, and Mr. Spinazze, 46, both are partners in the Sylvania law firm, Lydy & Moan Ltd. Mr. McGowan, 58, and Mr. Thebes, 55, both have private law practices specializing in criminal law.
There are four candidates seeking to replace two-term Judge Jeffery Keller in Oregon Municipal Court: Republican Anne Brossia, Democrats Louis Kovacs and Clinton Wasserman, and Scott Winckowski, who is not affiliated with a political party.
Mr. Wasserman, 35, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, is a former Oregon City Council member. Both Mr. Kovacs, 57, and Mr. Winckowski, 53, are private practice attorneys who have worked as acting judges in Oregon Municipal Court. Ms. Brossia, 56, is a private practice lawyer who specializes in litigation.
In Maumee, longtime Municipal Court Judge Gary Byers, 61, a Democrat, is seeking a seventh term. Challenging Judge Byers is Maumee City Councilman and lawyer Daniel Hazard, 44, a Republican.
Running unopposed for re-election are Toledo Municipal Court judges Timothy Kuhlman, a Republican, and Michelle Wagner, a Democrat.
The judicial races are non-partisan, meaning candidates’ party affiliations will not appear on the ballot.
Full-time municipal court judges are elected to six-year terms and currently are paid $125,850 a year — a salary set by the state legislature.