MAHONING COUNTY COURT Township official to challenge judge
The filing deadline for the judicial seat is Aug. 22.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Austintown Township administrator says he will challenge Mahoning County Court Judge Loren Popio in the November general election, and they are not expected to be the only candidates in the race.
Michael B. Dockry, township administrator since 1996, will officially file his nominating petitions for the seat with the county board of elections Tuesday.
Dockry sought the gubernatorial appointment to the seat when it was vacated last year, but the governor selected Popio in somewhat of a surprising move.
Dockry cites his 10 years of working as township administrator and clerk as well as his 20 years of legal experience as reasons why he is the best candidate.
Judge Popio is the only candidate to file nominating petitions with the elections board for the position. The deadline to file is Aug. 22.
Diane Vettori plans to file nominating petitions for the seat. Also, David Engler, a former county commissioner who vowed last year that he would not run for judge, is considering throwing his name into the race.
Although the county court judicial seat is a nonpartisan one, each candidate has definite political ties. Judge Popio and Dockry are Republicans, and Vettori and Engler are Democrats.
County area courts are located in Canfield, Boardman, Austintown and Sebring. There are three other county court judges. Each makes $50,000 annually. Judge Popio typically handles cases two days a week in Sebring and once a week in Austintown.
The judges are responsible for handling criminal misdemeanors and initial and preliminary hearings on felonies.
Popio's appointment expires Jan. 2, 2003, and whoever wins the November election will serve until Jan. 2, 2007. Popio was appointed in July 2001 to fill the unexpired term of Judge Theresa Dellick, who left the county court bench in April of that year to replace the late James M. McNally as county juvenile court judge.
In his statement announcing his candidacy, Dockry said he would serve honorably as judge, pointing to the removal of two county court judges, Martin Emrich and Fred Bailey, in the past three years. Both were convicted of fixing cases.
"In the past, our courts have been corrupted by the immoral behavior of a few judges and attorneys," he said. "As judge, I will work to protect our community and pledge to serve with honor and integrity."