A year ago, Todd McKenney moved from the state legislature to the Summit County Probate Court. He faced a big job, replacing Bill Spicer, who ably served as the probate judge for 36 years. McKenney has brought fresh eyes and new ideas. He also chose not to seek a full, six-year term. Thus, two strong and familiar candidates are vying for the position, Alison McCarty and Elinore Marsh Stormer, both judges on the county common pleas court.
We recommend the election of Elinore Marsh Stormer on Nov. 6.
The probate court handles tasks beyond the administration of estates. They include adoptions, marriage licenses and appointments to the metro parks and other independent boards. The court requires broader management skills, and that is part of what Stormer would bring. She has performed well as the administrative judge for the common pleas bench. More, she has been practical and innovative, starting with her time as a judge on the Akron Municipal Court, where she launched the drug and mental health specialty courts.
At the common pleas court, Stormer has pushed forward the re-entry docket, a tool to help former prisoners make an effective return to their communities. No surprise that a court led by one judge for three decades could use updating. McKenney has started the process. Stormer is better prepared to build on the effort. That doesn’t mean a sound operation should be upended. Stormer understands as much. Her plans focus on such items as making the court more accessible, expanding outreach and conducting a performance audit to get advice on improving operations.
No question, Alison McCarty would do well as the probate judge. She has her own set of accomplishments as an assistant county prosecutor, municipal court and common pleas judge, the latter for the past four years. She has been an advocate for abused and neglected children, and for specialty courts, at the front of creating a drunken-driving court on the municipal bench. She shares with Stormer the priority of addressing elder abuse. She proposes a veteran-to-veteran guardian program.
The difference in this race is the combination Stormer offers, the skills and experience of a fine judge, the knowledge, decision-making and temperament, along with a proven administrative capacity that includes an eye for new ways.