Judge Gene Zmuda, currently on the Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge and candidate for the 6th District Court of Appeals, introduced the keynote speaker for the recently McKinley dinner – Judge Craig Baldwin, a candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court.
Zmuda, who has handled a diverse caseload and hundreds of trials in his 15 years on the bench, is a frequent visitor to Huron County. He is also a long-time friend and colleague of Baldwin, saying they share a “passion to get the best judges possible” serving across the state.
Baldwin, a native of Licking County serving on the 5th District Court of Appeals, said while judges are not allowed to endorse anyone for public office, Zmuda commands respect and admiration in the legal community.
“People listen when he speaks,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said he wants to serve on Ohio’s Supreme Court to uphold the state constitution.
“I believe judges should do justice,” Baldwin said. “We should make fair decisions, timely decisions. People should be treated with dignity and respect, as citizens in their own courthouse.”
He also warned against judges who want to overstep their role on the bench.
“Don’t legislate from the bench,” he said. “Judges can’t make public policy one case at a time. That leads to bad results.”
Baldwin said the constitution mandates separation of powers that gives legislators the responsibility of making laws and judges the responsibility of interpreting those laws. He warned against judges who instead want to be “super legislators” and change laws with their court decisions.
Other candidates also mingled with people before and after the dinner.
Joe Hintz, a Huron County commissioner seeking his third term, said voters should consider his experience when they cast a ballot.
“Every year I’ve served as commissioner, we’ve taken in more than we’ve spent,” he said. “I’m committed to being fiscally responsible and, at the same time, serving the public.”
County auditor candidate Tom Dunlap said he has plans to improve the office he is seeking, should he get elected.
“I’m looking to make the auditor’s office more transparent and to create an atmosphere of working together with the commissioners and other office holders that doesn’t currently exist,” he said.
Nathan Manning, currently a state representative for Lorain County, is running for the state Senate district that includes both Huron and Lorain counties. His mother, state Sen. Gayle Manning, holds that seat now but cannot seek re-election due to term limits.
He touts his experience at the statehouse and wants to focus on making college affordable, investing in infrastructure, fighting the drug crisis and reducing tax burden as a senator.
Sue Larimer, of Perrysburg, is running for a seat with the state board of education. She said her 24 years as a teacher/substitute teacher and experience as a current Perrysburg school board member give her a unique point of view not currently seen on the board.
“It is time to get an educator on the board,” she said, promising to work to “get the noose off of our teachers and administrators and let them get back to teaching.”
Rob Duncan, Norwalk’s mayor and the Huron County Republican Executive Committee chairman, reminded the crowd of the importance of supporting U.S. Senate candidate Jim Renacci, a Northeast Ohio congressman running against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown.
“We need to make sure people know who Jim Renacci is,” Duncan said. “Sherrod Brown is the fourth-most liberal senator in the Senate and does not represent the values of most Ohioans.”
Renacci and U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan and Bob Gibbs seeking re-election could not attend the meeting because of other commitments, but they sent staff members to meet with the public.
State Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) missed the dinner because he was attending a conference regarding medical uses for nuclear isotopes, but said in a phone interview he is working on a couple of bills with that focus.
“Medical isotopes are an important asset for our country,” Stein said, adding he wants Ohio to be on the forefront of this technology.
Ohio is second in the nation in nuclear technology and manufacturing support, Stein said, and he has garnered support in Columbus to keep that industry growing.
Huron County Republican Party headquarters, 30 Benedict Ave., will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday through the election.