Hanni family feud spills over into the race for appeals court

How much bad blood must there be between Mark A. Hanni and his sister, Holly?

It appears to be a lot.

Mark is running again for judge, a job he really desires.

He lost the 2012 election for 7th District Court of Appeals and got smoked last November when running for Youngstown Municipal Court judge.

He’s back at it again filing to run in the Democratic primary for the 7th District Court of Appeals.

He’s among four candidates seeking the party’s nomination.

One of the other candidates is his sister, Holly Hanni, an attorney who seems like she’s only in the race to make sure her brother – the two haven’t gotten along for years – doesn’t win.

She campaigned against her brother in the November election. Actually Holly has been campaigning against her brother for a number of years.

When Mark tried to gain control of the Mahoning County Democratic Party in 2010 from Chairman David Betras, Holly sent letters to precinct committee members warning them against her brother’s efforts. Mark’s candidate for chairman was soundly defeated by Betras.

For years, their father, the late Don L. Hanni Jr., served as Mahoning County Democratic Party chairman.

If he was still around today, he’d likely get a kick out of watching two of his children going at it in such a public and political venue.

This race was going to be one of the area’s marquee matchups first pitting Mahoning County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, a Republican, against county Prosecutor Paul J. Gains, a Democrat.

Judge Krichbaum changed his mind and decided to stay where he is, opening up the spot for Maureen Sweeney, also a Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge, to run for the appeals seat.

Then Gains decided he wasn’t going to run for the seat saying: “My work as prosecutor is more important than my political ambitions.”

After that, Judge Sweeney opted not to run for the position.

Mary DeGenaro resigned from the post two weeks ago after Gov. John Kasich, a fellow Republican, appointed her to fill an unexpired term on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Justice DeGenaro is running in the November election for a full six-year term on the state’s highest court.

That means her unexpired term on the court of appeals will be filled by the governor.

When Kasich gets around to making that appointment he’s going to select a Republican, and the person chosen to fill the vacancy is going to have the benefit of being the incumbent in the race.

Judges Krichbaum or Sweeney would have had a huge advantage – and almost certainly would have been elected in November – had either decided to stay in the race.

Instead, two much lesser- known Republicans filed for the seat.

They are Damian DeGenova of Poland, who lost the Struthers Municipal Court judge race in November, and Kathleen Bartlett, an attorney from North Jackson.

Kasich will choose from between those two.

In addition to the two Hannis, the other Democratic candidates for the seat are Aaron Hively, the appeals court’s chief mediator, and the early favorite: Mahoning County Court Judge David A. D’Apolito, who was first elected to that position in November 2000.

The D’Apolito name is prominent in Mahoning County judicial politics with father and son Lou and Anthony D’Apolito – related to David – both elected to the common pleas court.

The 7th District Court of Appeals includes Mahoning, Columbiana, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble counties.

For several years Mahoning, the court’s most populous county, has owned the court of appeals with the notable exception of 2014’s election of Carol Ann Robb of Columbiana County.

All six candidates who filed in the primaries for the vacant seat on the 7th District bench are from Mahoning County.

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