It is important that Youngstown has a black person on the bench, the judge said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Judge Robert Douglas Jr. said his solid 17.2-percent margin of victory over challenger J. Jeffrey Limbian was closer than he anticipated.
"I expected to do better and I wanted to do better," Douglas said. "I wanted to make a statement. I felt very strongly about my record, my reputation and my accomplishments. I felt the people would recognize that, which they did. But I expected to do better. I worked as hard or harder on this campaign than the first one."
The final result was a lot closer to Judge Douglas' prediction than Limbian's. Limbian, a former Youngstown city prosecutor and law director, expected a tighter race.
"We clearly made a gross miscalculation," said Limbian, who ran as an independent.
Judge Douglas, a Democrat who has served on the Youngstown bench since 1997, was elected to a six-year term. He said this will probably be his last term in office. Limbian said he does not plan to run for public office again.
"In my estimation, there are real problems in the Youngstown Municipal Court and we tried to convince the voters of that," Limbian said. "Unfortunately, we didn't convince enough of them."
Progress: Judge Douglas said the court has made great strides during his four years on the bench, including video arraignments and a new court administrator.
"There was a lot to do when we got there," he said. "We've got a great start. I'm really satisfied with the progress so far. It's a matter of following through."
But there is more to do during his next term. At the top of his agenda is improving the court's computer system and addressing the court's facility needs. There has been talk of relocating the municipal court.
"This issue begs for attention," Judge Douglas said. "There are some obstacles there. I know things take time. Anyone who works in government needs to understand that. It's quite different from the business sector, with checks and balances and the need to work with other public officials. It takes a bit longer, but I believe we're going to get there."
Statement: When asked if his victory was an indication that Youngstown residents are satisfied with the court system, Judge Douglas said, "I don't think people really understand what goes on in a courtroom. I really don't. They really don't understand what goes on. I think it's a very complex system. Not everybody gets to the court."
Douglas said it is also important that Youngstown, which has a large black population, has a black person serving on the city court bench.
"I think it's very important," he said. "Seventy-five, 80 percent of people coming to court are people of color. From the standpoint of people feeling a part of the community and being represented in their institutions, I know it makes a difference."