Two Republican mavericks who have been opposed by their own county party for years will rule the roost at Stow Municipal Court.
Judge Kim Hoover, an 18-year incumbent, will stay on the bench for another six-year term in spite of his party’s attempt to get rid of him. And his ally, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, will take over as clerk of courts after defeating Democrat incumbent Diana Colavecchio.
Hoover and Coughlin fell from the local party’s grace after backing a failed attempt to oust Summit County Republic Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff several years ago. But in winning the nonpartisan elections, Hoover and Coughlin both defeated the candidates that had their party’s backing.
“If voters had told me to go home, I’d say thank you for the honor of serving as long as I did,” Hoover said after his victory. “If they tell me to stay, then I’ll keep working for them as hard as I did.”
Hoover’s challenger, Kandi O’Connor, extended her congratulations to Hoover and said, “I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”
She said it was hard to tell if the party in-fighting had affected the race, but added, “I really think that judicial campaigns should try and be as nonpartisan as possible.”
County Republicans had hoped to oust Hoover in the spring primary by supporting O’Connor, a judicial attorney for Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones.
But Hoover sidestepped that early battle through an obscure law. By calling himself a “nonpartisan” candidate — he couldn’t call himself an “independent” because he never has distanced himself from the Republican party — Hoover was able to skip the spring showdown and go directly to the General Election ballot.
Coughlin entered the fray and followed Hoover’s cue, skipping the primary as well to take on Colavecchio and Republican primary winner Frank Larson for the clerk’s seat Tuesday.
Hoover and Coughlin might have been at a disadvantage in the primary because there was little else on the ballot, and a low-turnout election could have attracted mostly lockstep party members.
But in Ohio, party affiliations are dropped from court races in the General Election, allowing Hoover and Coughlin to depend more on their long political experience to attract votes.
Hoover admitted he had some cause for concern in recent days after Summit County Republicans launched radio and TV ads touting O’Connor and other Republican judicial candidates.
“Arshinkoff spent $100,000 in six days — three times what I spent on the entire campaign,” Hoover said.
That the investment didn’t pay off sends the message that “Alex Arshinkoff is more irrelevant all the time,” Hoover said. “To spend all that money and fail, it demonstrates his irrelevancy.”
Coughlin, tweeting to his followers after a very narrow victory, said: “Squeaked out a win tonight. The voters of Summit Co. have been good to me again!”
It was a bittersweet night for the Colavecchio family.
Diana Colavecchio gave up her seat on the Cuyahoga Falls City Council in January to accept appointment to the clerk’s office. At the time, her husband, Paul Colavecchio, was appointed to finish her term.
On Tuesday, Ward 5 voters kept him in office.