The incoming county court judge beat out two other finalists for the position.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Gov. Bob Taft has named a 46-year-old attorney who operates a Poland title agency and mediation firm to the Mahoning County area court bench.
"I'm thrilled and humbled at the same time by the appointment," said Loren Popio of Canfield, who has practiced law for 21 years.
Popio also admitted he was surprised by his selection. Although Popio was among the three finalists recommended to Taft by the county Republican Party, most local GOP insiders said the favorite to get the spot was Warren "Bo" Pritchard, an Austintown Township trustee, former county Republican chairman and an unsuccessful candidate for county court judge last year.
The other finalist was Robert R. Melnick of Green Township, a former part-time assistant county prosecutor.
Popio's appointment begins Aug. 13. He succeeds Judge Theresa Dellick, who left the area court bench in April after being appointed by Taft as county juvenile court judge. She replaced the late James M. McNally.
There are three other county area court judges. The judges are expected to meet shortly to determine where each will serve. County area courts are located in Canfield, Boardman, Austintown and Sebring. Traditionally, the newest judge sits in Sebring.
Reaction: This is the first judicial position Popio has sought.
"I think every lawyer down deep in his heart dreams of being a judge," Popio said. "This is the culmination of a legal career."
Popio, who served last year on the county Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities board, operates Cardinal Mediations Inc. and Popio Title Agency in Poland.
He received a bachelor's degree in business in 1976 from The Ohio State University and received his law degree in 1980 from Ohio Northern Law School. He resides in Canfield with his wife, Kathleen, and their two children.
Popio's appointment expires Jan. 2, 2003. The November 2002 election will determine who completes the rest of Judge Dellick's unexpired term, which runs through Jan. 2, 2007. Popio plans to run for the seat next year.
Taft took more than two months to appoint Popio. The governor took a month to select Judge Dellick earlier this year for juvenile court judge.