Judge John Holcomb chose not to seek re-election after 18 years on the Akron Municipal Court. Two strong candidates are seeking to fill his position, Gertrude Wilms, the chief prosecutor for the city of Akron, and Julie Schafer, an attorney in private practice, a member of the Copley-Fairlawn school board and a former small business owner. Each would do well on the bench. Yet, in facing the choice, the edge belongs to Schafer.
We recommend the election of Julie Schafer on Nov. 5.
Schafer came relatively late to the law. Her practice the past 11 years has been varied, settling more in the area of domestic relations. What is most persuasive about her candidacy is the range of her experience outside the courtroom. She has started, owned and operated companies that made clothing, including North Coast Kids. She became a guardian ad litem for the Summit County Juvenile Court, representing the interests of children facing tough circumstances at home. She has served as a foster parent, and adopted two young boys who had been in foster care.
For the past decade, Schafer has been a member of the Copley-Fairlawn school board, engaged and productive, currently serving as a trustee on the Ohio School Boards Association. The municipal court, more than others in the judicial system, involves handling people at turning points in their lives. Schafer does not have much experience in criminal law. Yet she is a quick study and, more, brings life experience that she can tap, having seen the community from a variety of helpful perspectives.
Gertrude Wilms knows the municipal court well, having spent the past dozen years in the Akron Law Department, first arriving as an intern from law school. In many ways, hers would be an easy and logical transition. Yet she became the chief city prosecutor just 18 months ago. And there resides the difference in this race. Better for Wilms to get more experience in her current position, even to ease some concerns about partisanship, Wilms having managed the election campaigns of Russ Pry and Don Plusquellic.
In Julie Schafer, the court would have a judge tested in more ways and better prepared for the bench.