11TH DISTRICT COURT Republican primary pits appellate candidates
Two judges will go head-to-head in November.
By STEPHEN SIFF
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- Three candidates, all from outside the Mahoning Valley, will go head to head in the May 7 Republican primary for a chance at an open seat on the 11th District Court of Appeals.
Name recognition and approachability during the campaign are two factors likely to determine the winner, Mark J. Hassett and Colleen Mary O'Toole agree.
Both also say their legal and professional experience will make them favorites among the admittedly few voters who follow the race.
"I have 25 years of legal experience and some judicial or quasi-judicial experience," said Hassett, who is a part-time magistrate in Chardon Municipal Court, where he also occasionally sits as acting judge.
He said his age, 52, would be an advantage on the court.
"With age comes wisdom," he said. "It think it is helpful to have been around the block."
O'Toole said her experience as a public defender, insurance company and housing advocacy group lawyer, general practice attorney and law school teacher makes her the strongest candidate.
"People should vote for me because of my diverse experience," said O'Toole, who has unsuccessfully run for judge in Cuyahoga County twice in the past.
She moved to Lake County a few months ago.
Both candidates said their interest in this seat was sparked by the resignation of Judge Robert A. Nader, a Warren Democrat.
The court hears appeals from trial courts in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties.
"I'm looking for a more objective, less tumultuous approach to the practice of law," O'Toole said.
"I like to read, I like to write," said Hassett.
A third candidate in the May 7 Republican primary, Tracey K. O'Day of Ashtabula, did not return a questionnaire to The Vindicator and could not be reached.
The Republican primary winner will face Democrat Cynthia Rice of Brookfield in the November general election.
Also in November, there will be an unusual race between two sitting judges. Republican Judith A. Christley of Andover has filed to run against William M. O'Neill, a Democrat from South Russell, for the seat O'Neill now holds.
If Christley wins O'Neill's seat, the governor would appoint someone to fill the two years remaining to her term.
Neither faces opposition in the May 7 primary.