By David Skolnick
Four candidates — three Democrats and an independent — are seeking to get the Republican governor’s appointment to replace outgoing Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Eight people, including two Republicans, expressed interest to the county Republican Party, which will recommend up to three finalists to Gov. John Kasich after a screening process.
But only four, none of them Republicans, applied for the appointment by Monday’s deadline.
The four applicants are:
Anthony M. D’Apolito of Poland, a county juvenile court magistrate and son of Judge Lou D’Apolito of common pleas. The son, a registered Democrat, already has said he plans to seek the Democratic nomination for this seat.
Robert J. Andrews of Boardman, a county assistant prosecutor and registered Democrat.
Shirley J. Christian of New Springfield, an attorney with Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell. Board of elections data have her registered as a Democrat for voting in that party’s 2012 primary. But Christian said that’s a mistake by the board.
“There’s no way,” she said. “I’m a Republican and have been a Republican. That’s got to be some kind of error. I wouldn’t have voted Democratic.” Christian voted in the 2004 and 2010 Republican primaries, according to elections-board data.
Wade T. Doerr of New Middletown, an attorney with the Akron law firm of Niekamp, Weisensell, Mutersbaugh & Mastrantonio. He voted Democratic in the 2008 primary, but hasn’t voted in a primary election since, according to the board of elections. Therefore, he is considered an independent.
“We did talk to a couple of Republican attorneys for the seat and whatever reason they chose not to file,” said county GOP Chairman Mark Munroe, who declined to provide the names. “Shirley Christian has voted in Republican primaries in the past. She had a pretty good Republican track record. She said she didn’t vote Democratic in 2012.”
Munroe, who is chairman of the board of elections, said he’d ask the staff to review poll books to determine what happened.
County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said, “I’m shocked the Republican Party couldn’t find a Republican. If they want to appoint a Democrat, knock yourselves out. But I can’t see the governor doing that.”
A county GOP screening committee will meet next week with the candidates and a day or two later the committee could give up to three names for Kasich to consider for the appointment, Munroe said.
Judge Evans hasn’t retired yet, and Republicans are seeking to replace him.
That’s because the judge wrote on two documents on June 12 that he would retire effective Sept. 1.
Kasich will be able to replace Judge Evans on an interim basis — perhaps almost immediately after the retirement — with the person selected having that job until the November general election results are certified. The seat will be up for grabs in the Nov. 4 election.
County Democratic and Republican precinct committee members would vote on candidates to represent their party on the Nov. 4 ballot shortly after Sept. 1. Independent candidates could also file with the necessary number of signatures on nominating petitions.
The board of elections needs to determine the timing of all of this, but military and overseas ballots must be done by Sept. 20. That won’t give either party much time for that decision after Judge Evans’ retirement is official.
When asked if the county GOP would field a candidate, Munroe said, “It’s premature to talk about that. Our priority is to recommend three qualified candidates to the governor.”
If the governor appoints a Democrat, Munroe said that doesn’t necessarily eliminate “the possibility [that person would] run as a Republican.”
Betras said it might.
“I don’t think legally the Republicans can appoint a Democrat [to run] as a Republican,” he said. “I’d have to check the law.”
Munroe said Democrats can run as Republicans and vice versa.