Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

New Leaders Rise to the Bench After Judicial Elections

A courtroom with an almost entirely wood interior.


A courtroom with almost an entirely wood interior.

Election Day outcomes resulted in 28 new municipal court judgeships out of 109 races.

Ohio voters elected 28 new municipal court judges in this week’s general election, including two who were elected over incumbents.

Overall, 139 candidates were on election ballots for 109 municipal court judgeships. Of those races, 28 were contested with two or more candidates. Tuesday’s elections included 26 open seats. Nine of those races were for incumbents unable to run for office after the age of 70 due to Ohio’s constitutional age limit for judges.

According to unofficial election results, those who successfully defeated incumbents were:

  • Samantha Silverstein, who replaces incumbent Judge Curt Kissinger on the Hamilton County Municipal Court
  • James A. Melone, who replaces incumbent Judge Jennifer Ciccone on the Struthers Municipal Court

Judge Ciccone received a gubernatorial appointment earlier this year and was running to retain her seat. Another appointment this year was Cleveland Municipal Judge Mark Majer. He ran for a different seat on that court and was defeated.

The other newly elected judges are:

  • Allison Manning, Avon Lake Municipal Court
  • Nicholas A. Papa, Bedford Municipal Court
  • Jacob Estes, Bellefontaine Municipal Court
  • David J. Claus, Bellevue Municipal Court
  • Sean Kilbane, Berea Municipal Court
  • Courtney Worley, Brown County Municipal Court
  • Stephanie Williams, Cambridge Municipal Court
  • Mark J. Kolmacic, Campbell Municipal Court
  • Kristen Donohue Guardado, Canton Municipal Court
  • Bridgett O'Brien, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Jeff Johnson, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Sydney Strickland Saffold, Cleveland Municipal Court
  • Franklin W. Gehres, Dayton Municipal Court
  • Troy A. Essex, Defiance Municipal Court
  • Andrew J. Hunt, Fairborn Municipal Court (new seat)
  • Zach Gwin, Franklin County Municipal Court
  • Eric K. Nagel, Fulton County Municipal Court (new seat)
  • John R. Payne, Lima Municipal Court
  • Michael Kemerer, Mansfield Municipal Court
  • David C. Badnell, Mansfield Municipal Court
  • Randall Jedlink, Marietta Municipal Court
  • Timothy Dobeck, Parma Municipal Court
  • Drew Cannon, Perry County Municipal Court
  • Joseph Burke, Rocky River Municipal Court
  • Susana B. Lewis, Wadsworth Municipal Court
  • Patricia Leopardi Knepp, Warren Municipal Court
  • Susan Wollschied, Washington Court House Municipal Court

Judge-elect Hunt and Judge-elect Nagel will occupy new seats in Fairborn – near Dayton – and Fulton County in northwest Ohio. The Fairborn Municipal Court judgeship becomes the court’s second seat due to a caseload that outgrew a single judge. The Fulton County Municipal Court seat is part of a new structure that consolidates two part-time county court judgeships into one full-time position. The Ohio General Assembly, which must approve all judicial seats, passed a bill creating the judgeships in June 2022.

In 2024, Ohio voters in all counties will elect judges, including three Supreme Court of Ohio associate justices. In addition to the Supreme Court seats, at least 159 other judicial seats will be up for election next year. That number can grow if a judge retires mid-term, or a seat is vacated for another reason.

All counties will have elections for the 12 district courts of appeals. Presently, voters in 49 counties will elect a total of 109 common pleas court judges, and people in 20 counties will decide a total of 26 county court judgeships.

The filing deadline is Dec. 20 for partisan candidates for next year's primary elections in March.