Election Guide: State Races

DKS Editors


Ohio’s chief legal counsel post up for grabs in tomorrow’s statewide general election

Mike Crites

Mike Crites served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio for seven years where he led task forces on health care fraud, insurance fraud and environmental compliance. He has acted as law director, prosecutor or special counsel for at least seven Ohio cities since leaving his federal appointment.

He served in the Vietnam War and is a retired naval captain. He is also a graduate of the Ohio Northern School of Law.

He taught at the Ohio State College of Law and is currently a partner in the Columbus firm Rich, Crites & Dittmer, LLC.

Crites’ press secretary was unavailable for comment.

Richard Cordray

WATCH a video about Richard Cordray.

Richard Cordray became state treasurer in 2006. He served in the Ohio Attorney General’s office, and he created a program to help local prosecutors argue cases at the state supreme court. He has argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, at the urging of both former President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. He has argued cases for continued funding of legal aid programs nationwide and protection of voting rights.

Cordray is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and he clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices. He also taught at Ohio State for 15 years.

Deputy communications director Nick Benson also said people are often surprised to learn Cordray was a five-time consecutive Jeopardy champion in the 1980s.

Robert Owens

Robert Owens became a prosecutor in Delaware County in 2003. He has clerked for a federal judge and served on the City of Delaware’s Charter Review Commission in 2008. He is concerned with legislation that protects civil liberties and national sovereignty.

Owens is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan and studied at Oxford University in England. He is also accredited by the Ohio Division of Real Estate.

In the last few years, Owens has taken on several pro bono cases dealing with home foreclosures. Communications director Brian Doran said he has become known as the “man to go see when there’s overwhelming odds.”

– Brittany Moffatt


Four candidates vie for positions on Ohio’s highest court during tomorrow’s election

Joseph Russo

Judge Joseph Russo is a Democratic candidate running for the Ohio Supreme Court, and he has served in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court since 2000.

“Reforming the court ethically and removing the embarrassment brought to our court through newspaper articles,” Russo said about his reasons for running, referring to a story from the New York Times that said current justices vote in favor of contributors to their campaigns.

He explained that he is campaigning on the idea of having a “Fair and balanced” court system because the current Supreme Court justices are all Republican.

Peter Sikora

Judge Peter Sikora is a Democratic candidate running to be an Ohio Supreme Court justice. He has spent almost 20 years as a judge in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas juvenile division.

“Citizens are not well served by the current all-Republican bench,” he said.

Sikora said the Supreme Court should have “checks and balances,” and electing him would help that balance.

Unifying the probate court, juvenile court and domestic relations so that they work better together is also a priority, he said.

“We need to rethink how we assign responsibility,” Sikora said.

Evelyn Stratton

Justice Evelyn Stratton is a Republican currently on the Ohio Supreme Court and running for re-election. She has been a justice for 12 years, and if she is elected this would be her third term.

“Stratton is best known for setting up mental health courts within the state of Ohio,” campaign manager Barbara Lewis said.

If re-elected, her priorities are to continue the work she has been doing in mental health and adoption reform, Stratton said. Stratton feels that her expertise in having seen a wide variety of cases as a justice qualifies her for re-election.

Maureen O’Connor

Justice Maureen O’Connor was elected in 2002 as the 148th justice to the Ohio Supreme Court.

“I’m running for re-election to the Ohio Supreme Court because I’ve seen the importance of having a fair, unbiased court that interprets the law and creates a level playing field for all those who come before it,” O’Connor said.

“I firmly believe that we must adhere to legal precedent and instill stability and predictability in the law,” she said on her Web site, www.oconnorforjustice.com.

“When I put on my robe to hear a case, I’m not a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. “I’m a justice sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws of the state of Ohio.”

– Heather Scarlett