By Katherine Chipps
This year we’re working to unseat John Kasich’s political appointments to our Franklin County Courts. Kasich brought in out-of-towners, those with the same last name as Democrats, and dished-out political favors to Republican office holders and his cronies. He did this with our courts, the same court-system that we rely on to deliver fair and impartial justice.
Now it’s our turn to tell Kasich that we want Judges who are from Franklin County and have the experience to serve our community.
Kasich's recent political appointment to the Court of Appeals, Betsy Luper Schuster, highlights the problem. Schuster's “experience” notably includes being chief counsel to disgraced former Governor Bob Taft. She served Taft at the height of the Coingate scandal. Additionally, she was also the chief elections counsel to Secretary of State Jon Husted. This is the same Secretary of State who refused to follow a Federal Judge’s order to open up voting hours and had to be ordered to court to make him comply.
Schuster is running against Mary Jo Kilroy. Mary Jo has been dedicated to serving our community on the Columbus School Board, as Franklin County Commissioner. As a Member of the United States Congress, she sponsored and helped pass consumer protection laws. She is an active school volunteer. An OSU law grad, Mary Jo began her law practice with her husband in 1981. She has tried civil, criminal and domestic cases and argued countless cases at the appellate court level.
Next, if you want an example of Kasich's political gamesmanship with our courts, just look at Amy O’Grady. Kasich appointed her to the Court of Appeals. Her last name sound familiar, right? It should. It makes people think you’re a Democrat when you share a last name with our popular County Commissioner John O’Grady. She also had to move to Franklin County from Delaware County to take the appointment.
So, why would they need a big political name for this seat? Well, Amy is running against former Franklin County Common Pleas Judge and Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner. Jennifer started her law firm, Brunner Quinn, in the corner of her bedroom as she raised three children, and several foster children. She went on to win a seat in the Common Pleas Court in 2000, and won the Secretary of State’s office in 2006. Her work there, earned her the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2008.
There's more. One of the worst examples of Kasich's political appointments is Colleen O’Donnell, daughter of a Republican Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrance O’Donnell, she wasn’t even a Franklin County resident. She moved from Cuyahoga to get the appointment to our Franklin County Common Pleas Court. Even worse yet, they held the appointment process up so she could obtain the minimal years as licensed attorney needed to legally serve on the bench. Before being appointed to the bench, O’Donnell was a lobbyist. Although she had some “criminal cases”, she never litigated a case in a trial before being appointed to the bench.
In comparison, her opponent Monica Hawkins is a lifelong Franklin County resident. Daughter of a factory worker and police officer, she worked her way through college and worked for Franklin County Children’s Services. There, she decided she wanted to do more. She went back to law school at night after working all day and raising her son, Dionte’ Johnson, a successful graduate and former football player for the Ohio State University, and now entrepreneur, small business owner, coach, husband, and father. Monica Hawkins also has extensive trial experience during her 14 years as a licensed attorney. She has been an advocate for our children, and an activist for our Franklin County community for all of her life.
Finally, Kasich’s latest appointment Rita McNeil-Danish. She just moved here from Southwestern Ohio where she has worked in the Cincinnati/Dayton area. She wasn’t even a member of the Columbus Bar Association at the time of her appointment. But, she is now on our court.
She is running against James W. Brown, who has practiced law nearly exclusively in the domestic court during his 31 year career as an attorney. Unlike Rita, James Brown has lived his entire life in Franklin County and has been very active in our community. He has the judgment and experience we need to decide important custody and other domestic relations issues.
And now, John Kasich has been campaigning for his political appointments saying we need more women in office. What a change of tune, right? Now, as a woman, I don’t vote for a candidate simply because they are a woman. I vote for the candidates that hold closer beliefs to my own, and are experienced. I didn’t vote for John McCain because Sarah Palin was on the ballot, why would I believe the smoke and mirror campaign from Kasich and vote for these Republican women?
We don’t need political appointments, out-of-towners and similar names to Democrats. We need experienced lawyers on the bench, lawyers who are connected to and know our community. Learn about the slate of Democratic Judicial candidates by clicking here. You can find out for yourself why we call them the All-Star Team.
Let’s send the message to Kasich that political games with our courts need to stop. Elect the FCDP All-Star team. Also, you can help spread the word about our Judicial candidates. Click here to sign up to volunteer.