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Candidates for Summit County Common Pleas Court judge and the 9th District Court of Appeals judge met the public and spoke on various topics at two well-attended events.
The Stow group Citizens for NonPartisan Politics sponsored a Candidates Night Oct. 4 at the VFW/Acker-Moore Memorial Post 175 in Stow. The League of Women Voters of the Akron Area, Hudson and Tallmadge presented a Candidates Forum for Summit County on Oct. 6 at the Cuyahoga Falls High School.
The 9th District Court of Appeals has three seats for judges. Two are unopposed.
For one of the seats in the 9th District Court of Appeals, Diana M. Stevenson of Barberton will face Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas A. Teodosio of Munroe Falls.
Teodosio attended both events. Stevenson attended the Cuyahoga Falls event.
Teodosio has 34 years of experience as a lawyer and judge. He served six years on Summit County Council. He has been on the Common Pleas Court for nine years and said the 9th District Court of Appeals is the "next natural progression."
The appeals court is the "last resort for most cases for criminal and civil case," Teodosio said. "Experience is crucial."
He said the greatest issue is the heroin epidemic.
"We're losing our youth," Teodosio said. "I have the highest docket in court. It's more like a therapeutic court because of the overdose cases."
Stevenson has 24 years of experience in a variety of courts and cases. She served 12 years as a magistrate in probate court and five years as clerk of courts for the Barberton Municipal Court.
She said she would reduce the time it takes to make decisions.
Stevenson said one side is happy with the decision in the Common Pleas Court and one side is unhappy.
"I would make timely decisions and expand mediation to work out problems themselves," Stevenson said.
The other two seats for the 9th District Court of Appeals are unopposed by incumbent Judge Donna J. Carr of Akron and Common Pleas Court Judge Lynne S. Callahan of Akron. Both attended the Cuyahoga Falls event.
Carr said she has more than 20 years of experience with 19 years in appeals.
People have to have confidence in judges, she said.
"If we lose rule of law, we lose society," Carr said.
Callahan said for most, an appeal stops at the 9th District Court. Few go to the Ohio Supreme Court. She has been a trial attorney for 21 years and served five years as an Akron police officer.
"Every six years we elect judges," Callahan said. "Politics can rear its ugly head."
For Common Pleas Court Judge, magistrate Alison Breaux of Akron will face incumbenty Judge Todd McKenney of Akron. They attended both events.
Breaux said she has been a lawyer since 2001 and magistrate in Akron Municipal Court since 2012 overseeing 6,000 cases.
"I have a reputation as a magistrate for being consistent, decisive and fair," Breaux said. "That's what a community needs."
She said the hardest thing for a judge is knowing what is going to be fair and the right decision.
"Judges have a lot of discretion for sentencing," Breaux said. "Should they go to jail, community control or probation? We don't know the outcome if we choose a different path."
McKenney has been a Summit County Court of Common Pleas judge for four years and spent 27 years as a lawyer and pastor at The Chapel from 1995 to 2007.
"It's about the person, not the party," McKenney said. "I'm doing the work right now. I have the most experience. I seek justice and love mercy equally."
McKenney said when judges are elected they have to meet the public and talk and listen to them.
A dealer is different from a user. When drug users break into a home or commit violent acts, they cross the line for rehabilitation, McKenney said.
"When the public is put in danger, we have to enforce the laws," he said.
"Good judges should have discretion," McKenney said. "Then I can deal with them as an individual. If it's a mandatory sentence, then I have to follow the law."
For Common Pleas Court Judge, Akron Municipal Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield of Akron will face incumbent Judge Scot A. Stevenson of Barberton.
Oldfield attended both events and Stevenson attended the Cuyahoga Falls event.
Oldfield has 16 years of legal experience as judge, magistrate, arbitrator and attorney. As a Recovery Court Judge, she battled opiates with recovery efforts.
"It keeps people safe and cheaper than putting people in jail," Oldfield said.
"We need to figure out how to sentence people without sending them to jail," Oldfield said. "It cost more money and doesn't make the community safer. We need more rehab services and specialized dockets."
Stevenson said he has been an attorney for 23 years and this is his first year serving as a judge in the Common Pleas Court of Summit County.
"I treat people fairly," Stevenson said. "I know how scary court can be and treat them with respect."
He said one judge could handle drug addiction and some mental illness cases in order to treat them consistently and fairly.
"We need to protect the rights of those with autism," he said.
For Summit County Domestic Relations Judge, Summit County Chief Magistrate Rob Cable of Akron will face Akron Municipal Court Judge Katarina Cook of Akron. Cook attended both events. Cable attended the Cuyahoga Falls event.
Cable said he has overseen 15,000 cases as a magistrate for domestic relations.
He mediates to reduce conflicts in most cases and decide what is best for the children.
Cook has 25 years of experience as legal professional.
She said drug or alcohol addiction causes divorce and affects visitation.
The courts need a recovery program. They are repeat offenders but there are not enough beds to help.
"There's a big gap between wanting help and delivering help," she said.
More information is available at www.JudicialVotesCount.org.