Women rule in Summit County.
For what may be the first time in history, the Summit County Common Pleas bench – once all male – will be made up of all women after Tuesday’s election.
In the only male-female match-ups for Summit County Common Pleas Court, Kathryn Michael and Kelly McLauglin defeated Tom McCarty and Dave Lombardi, according to unofficial election results.
“The two men are going down in flames,” said McCarty, whose wife, Alison, is already on the common pleas bench.
These wins will mean all 10 judges on the common pleas bench will be women and, overall in Summit County, women will occupy just more than 70 percent of the elected judicial seats.
“That will put us in the most unusual position of any other county across the state of Ohio,” said Michael, an Akron judge who ran for a common pleas seat for the fourth time.
The female victories were among the highlights in the four contested Summit County judge races in Tuesday’s election. The races included one for the 9th District Court of Appeals and three for Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones was the only judicial candidate in the county running unopposed.
In the 9th District race, Judge Jennifer Hensal defeated a challenge from Stow Clerk of Courts Diana Colavecchio. She was the lone Republican to claim a judge win in a contested race in the county.
In the common pleas races, Judge Jill Flagg Lanzinger lost the seat she was appointed to in March 2017 to Susan Baker Ross, an Akron magistrate.
McCarty said he thinks Lanzinger and the other Republican judge candidates were hurt by an anti-Republican backlash.
“There’s something to be said for an overwhelming number of Democrats who came out for this election,” he said. “I don’t know if you can come up with a better reason for people coming out in droves than dissatisfaction with the way things are.”
McLaughlin said she thinks it wasn't gender or party that was most important for Summit County voters.
"I think qualifications," she said. "I think we are giving the voters quality candidates."
Hensal, who was elected to the 9th District in 2012, emphasized her experience and “well-rounded legal background.” Colavecchio, a former magistrate in Cuyahoga Falls Mayor’s Court and Cuyahoga Falls council member, argued she has “a longer history of public service.”
The 9th District includes Summit, Lorain, Medina and Wayne counties.
Lombardi, a trial attorney who briefly served as an Akron judge, and McLaughlin, the head magistrate in Summit County Domestic Relations Court, competed for the common pleas seat currently held by Judge Jay Wells.
Lombardi defeated Wells in the Republican primary, while McLaughlin beat Rob McCarty, the chief magistrate in Summit County Juvenile Court.
Lombardi argued he had more relevant experience because he had handled every type of case that comes before the court. McLaughlin, however, said she had more time on the bench than her opponent, albeit as a magistrate.
McCarty, an assistant attorney general who previously was an Akron judge, and Michael, an Akron judge for 13 years, competed for the seat of long-time Judge Paul Gallagher, who will retire at the end of this year.
McCarty emphasized his “knowledge, wide and broad experience, personality and temperament,” while Michael pointed to her longer tenure as a judge. Michael will need to be replaced on the Akron bench.
After the election, McCarty thanked his friends, colleagues and family for all of their hard work on his campaign.
Lanzinger, who moved to the Summit County bench from the Barberton court, defended her new seat against Ross, who handles the traffic court in Akron.
Lanzinger said she has more experience presiding over civil and criminal jury trials, but Ross noted that she has been an attorney for longer and a magistrate for six years, managing her own program and staff.
For updated election results and stories, visit Ohio.com.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter:@swarsmithabj.