Don't count Chris Sammarone out of future elections.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Legal experience did seem to matter to voters in eight counties who chose between two Democratic candidates for 7th District Court of Appeals.
Timothy Franken, 57, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor who oversees the office's criminal division, appeared to be winning over Christopher Sammarone, 33, a lawyer with a private practice in Youngstown.
The Ohio Secretary of State's Web site showed Franken leading Sammarone with 60 percent of the vote late Tuesday. That include complete results in Harrison, Noble and Monroe counties, where Franken won handily, and nearly complete figures from Jefferson, Carroll and Columbiana counties, which also swung to Franken.
The race was much tighter in Mahoning County, which is the most populous county in the 7th District. With about 90 percent of precincts reporting around midnight, Franken led 52.9 percent to 47.1 percent. Both Franken and Sammarone live in Canfield.
Franken also was leading in Belmont County after one-fourth of precincts reported.
Candidates in this race usually come from Mahoning County, so votes cast in the other counties are important in deciding races, Franken said.
Franken had touted his 27 years of courtroom experience during his campaign.
"Chris is a really nice kid. He ran a really nice campaign," Franken said Tuesday night. As for the experience factor, "I felt that's very important. You need someone there with a lot of experience. Apparently the voters feel the same way."
Sammarone was encouraged by his strong showing in his first run for elected office.
Noting that he barely meets the state's qualifications to run for the appeals court bench -- a minimum of six years' legal experience is required -- "For me to go out there and put on a campaign and run, let's put it this way, I have no fear," Sammarone said.
Sammarone said his campaign wasn't helped by The Vindicator's endorsement of Franken, nor the Mahoning County Bar Association's decision not to declare him as a qualified candidate for this office. It was still a good experience, he said, and he wasn't ruling out another run at a judicial or other elected position.
The primary winner faces incumbent Judge Mary DeGenaro of Poland in November.