Jackson, Melnick, Bruns appear to win Montgomery County judge races, unofficial results show

Angelina Jackson, Kim Melnick and Julie Bruns appear to have won their races for a spot on the bench in Montgomery County, according to final, unofficial election results from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

Jackson was challenging Bob Hanseman for his seat on the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court while Tony Schoen was challenging Melnick. Bruns was running to replace Montgomery County Judge Anthony Capizzi who is retiring. She was facing Steve Abshire.

According to final, unofficial results from the Montgomery County Board of Election, Jackson won her race 54% to 45%, Melnick won 52% to 47% and Bruns won 57% to 42%.

The unofficial results show all precincts have reported. There are 4,795 absentee ballots that are still out and about 4,000 provisional ballots that could impact the elections, said Montgomery County election officials.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judges oversee felony criminal cases and trials along with high-level civil cases that are seeking more than $15,000. Juvenile Court judges oversee cases involving youth including criminal and other cases that are related to a child’s wellbeing.

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Hanseman vs. Jackson

Hanseman, who was appointed to the bench earlier this year by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, called himself a law and order candidate. He said he’s heard concern from citizens about recent crime trends.

“People believe that crime is becoming more random, that there’s more happening in the middle of the day and that there’s more happening in places, you know like (drug stores), that you wouldn’t think it would happen and that is of great concern to people and they bring it up to me,” he said.

Hanseman said probation measures should be utilized when acceptable, but there needs to be accountability when they are broken.

Credit: DAN CLEARY

Credit: DAN CLEARY

“I believe in rehabilitation and I believe that people can be redeemed and can improve their lives,” Hanseman said. “I also believe that while they’re doing that, the public needs to be kept safe. And if someone is convicted of a crime, I’m going to do my best to keep the public safe.”

Meanwhile, Jackson is currently the lead of the appellate division in the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office and said her experience as a public defender has given her a unique perspective that other judges don’t have.

“The majority of my career has been focused on public service and representing people who are either poor or disadvantaged, and I am running because I really care about Montgomery County,” she said. “I care about the people, I care about the well-being and the health and safety of this community.”

Jackson said she has heard concern from voters about crime, but also said she is careful to not paint Montgomery County as a place that is unsafe to live. Recent trends in gun violence and reckless driving are concerning, she said, and she believes her work as a public defender has given her experience to know when someone should be incarcerated and when someone can benefit from help here.

Melnick vs. Schoen

Melnick was appointed to the bench by DeWine earlier this year too after being serving as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

During her time with the prosecutor’s office, she tried criminal cases and said she felt the courts are too lenient.

Credit: Easterling Studios

Credit: Easterling Studios

“I’ve heard from defendants, many of them over the years, that they will come into this county to commit crimes because they know they will not be sentenced as harshly as they might in other counties,” she said. “And being born and raised in Montgomery County, that was troublesome to me. And so with the amount of experience that I have in the courtroom, I felt like I would do a service to the county by becoming a judge.”

Melnick said she believes in accountability and that there should be consequences for violent and repeat offenders.

“I understand completely if someone is a first-time offender and they come in and they’ve made mistakes and they want to atone for those mistakes,” Melnick said, “Those people should absolutely be given the opportunity to do that. However when someone continues to come back over and over again, it’s no longer a mistake and they need to have consequences to deter their behavior and to deter others’ behavior in a similar fashion.”

Schoen is an assistant prosecuting attorney who is assigned to a criminal docket and consumer fraud division. He said he has both defended and prosecuted homicide cases, so he has a unique perspective on how a courtroom should be run.

“My philosophy would be to treat everybody fairly who is coming in front of my court, and I think the experience that I have enables me to do that,” he said.

He said he decided to run for judge because he wants a safe and thriving community for his family and all residents of Montgomery County. Schoen said the county has great police agencies and the prosecutor’s office does a good job too. He said there does need to be an evaluation of what it means to best protect the community.

He said there’s a lot of nonviolent crime that shouldn’t be viewed the same as violent criminals that endanger people.

Abshire vs. Bruns

A local attorney and a magistrate are competing to replace longtime judge Anthony Capizzi in Montgomery County Juvenile Court.

Abshire, was born and raised in North Dayton, is a combat veteran and lives in Centerville with his wife and kids. He’s served in the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases, was appointed by the court to represent children’s best interests in custody and criminal cases, and now is an attorney at a private practice.

“I am passionate about helping kids, helping families and that’s the sole reason I am running for judge,” Abshire said.

Juvenile court impacts everyone in the community, he said, and children have different reasons why they come into contact with the law. He said he has worked with kids at their homes and at their schools, which gives him good insight into the struggles youth face in the community.

But he also said there is a crisis going on with crimes being committed by juveniles with weapons and that he has spoken with local police unions and believes that children do need to be held accountable for their actions, especially when they are accused of violent crimes. Abshire said not holding youth accountable is a disservice to them and the residents of Montgomery County.

“There’s got to be a balance,” he said.

Bruns works as a juvenile court magistrate and said she decided to run for the bench because she has devoted her career to juvenile law and feels she is prepared to serve the community and make a difference.

“My accountability is really to the constituents I support, so I think I need to be very focused on the safety of the community but I also have to remember that we need to be rehabilitating our juvenile offenders,” Bruns said, adding that most of the juveniles that come before the court are nonviolent and the vast majority will be released at some point.

“The goals here really are toward making them people we would hope to have back out into our community,” she said.

She said the court currently offers a lot of programming to rehabilitate and help area children and she will work to maintain the programs and grow them. She said involving the community is important, and that she would work to strengthen families here because strong families mean safe communities.

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