By Ed Runyan
Former state representative Sandra Stabile Harwood has defeated 19-year incumbent Judge Richard L. James in a neck-and-neck race for Trumbull County Family Court judge.
Stabile Harwood, a Democrat from Niles, defeated James by a slim margin. James is a Republican from Lordstown.
During the campaign, Stabile Harwood criticized Judge James for not taking a more-active role in a child-custody case that made headlines.
Judge James had ordered supervised visitation for the biological parents of a 9-month-old girl under the care of the Trumbull County Children Services. The parents later raped the girl during a visit at Children Services.
Stabile Harwood said Judge James had a responsibility in that case to set “strict requirements” for how visitation should have been handled.
Judge James said the court makes the decision on whether visits need to be supervised or not, “but it’s up to CSB to determine how to carry out the court’s order.” He added, “In very rare cases, we can intervene.”
Said Stabile Harwood: “I’m not saying the judge should tell CSB how to run the agency, but in particular cases, you should be proactive in making sure children are safe.”
The rapes led to several investigations, criminal convictions for the parents and changes to Children Services procedures.
Stabile Harwood served eight years as state representative for the 65th District but was not eligible to run again in 2010 because of term limits.
In the race to fill an open part-time judgeship at the county’s Eastern District Court in Brookfield, Republican Robert M. Platt defeated Democrat Randil J. Rudloff about 63 percent to 37 percent.
The seat is currently occupied by Judge Ronald Rice, who won Tuesday’s election to be Trumbull County Common Pleas Court judge. Rice replaces Judge John M. Stuard, who is retiring.
Platt and Rudloff are private-practice attorneys, and both have served more than 20 years as acting judge in Eastern District Court and the Central District Court in Cortland. Platt served 28 years as West Farmington solicitor and 15 years as Cortland solicitor.
Platt and Rudloff are both Cortland residents.
Platt will serve no more than one six-year term because he will have reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 by the next election.
Rudloff has served more than 35 years on the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel as counsel for the Trumbull County Bar Assocation. In that role, he handles disciplinary matters involving Trumbull County attorneys.
In the 11th District Court of Appeals race, Mary Colleen O’Toole has beaten incumbent Mary J. Trapp despite O’Toole losing badly in Trumbull County. The Warren-based court reviews decisions issued by municipal, county and common pleas court judges in Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga, Portage and Trumbull counties.
O’Toole won all of the counties in the district except Trumbull. She won 51 percent of the vote in Ashtabula County, 55 percent in Geauga County, 53 percent in Portage County and 56 percent in Lake County. She received only 42 percent of the votes in Trumbull County.
Trapp is from Geauga County. O’Toole is from Lake County.