Voters in the Barberton Municipal Court district faced a difficult task six years ago after Judge Michael Weigand decided not to seek re-election. Six candidates filed for the November ballot in the sprawling district, which covers the cities of Barberton, Clinton, Green, New Franklin and Norton and Copley and Coventry townships.
The winner of that wide-open contest was David Fish, then assistant law director in Barberton. In running for a second full term, Fish is facing a single opponent, Jill Flagg. She is a trial attorney whose varied practice includes representing abused and neglected children.
We recommend the re-election of David Fish on Nov. 5.
As a prosecutor in the municipal court for 16 years, Fish developed a detailed grasp of the diverse district and how the court functions. His outside activities, as an adjunct law professor at the University of Akron and as a founding member of the Summit County Domestic Violence Task Force, added to the strong familiarity with the court and the communities it serves.
In the past six years, Fish has used that knowledge well, reorganizing the court’s administration and initiating a mental health court. Under Fish, the court hired an administrator and began seeking grants, most notably for the mental health court and to begin studying a new justice center to replace a 1950s-era facility. He has moved the court forward in a fiscally prudent way. He is operating the court in the black, avoiding charging Barberton, the court’s host city.
Flagg, in her ninth year of practicing law, has worked as a substitute magistrate and judicial law clerk in Akron Municipal Court. She also has been involved in several high-profile cases in recent years, among them the defense of Brogan Rafferty, the teen involved in the Craigslist killings.
In many ways, Flagg shares Fish’s priorities, especially for expanding specialty courts. She would beef up courtroom security, charging Barberton for improvements, if necessary. What Flagg lacks is an effective argument for unseating an incumbent who has performed well and done much in his first term to modernize the court.