Lopez challenges incumbent Nasal for judge seat

Miami County Municipal Court
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Miami County Municipal Court

TROY — Incumbent Miami County Municipal Court Judge Gary Nasal faces a challenge in the November election from county Recorder Jessica Lopez.

Lopez, 40, holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a juris doctorate from Capital University. She has been a licensed attorney since 2006 and the county’s elected recorder since 2013. She lives in Tipp City with her husband, Jay, and two children.

Nasal, 63, holds a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University and a juris doctorate from the University of Dayton School of Law. He was Miami County prosecuting attorney for more than 18 years and has served as judge for more than eight years. He lives in Troy with his wife, Mary, and has a stepson.

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After candidate petitions were certified by the local elections board, Nasal and his lawyer challenged Lopez on the requirement for judicial candidates to have practiced law at least six years. The challenge ended up at the Ohio Supreme Court, which found Lopez met the requirement.

Lopez said she is seeking the position because she sees opportunities for improvement for the court.

Jessica Lopez
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Jessica Lopez

“I believe that my experience practicing law and my experience as a county elected official make me qualified to offer a unique skill set that can effectively lead Miami County Municipal Court into the future,” she said.

Lopez said the top challenges include the drug and opioid epidemic.

“I have spent a great deal of time talking with law enforcement and first responders about ways to address these issues,” Lopez said. “It is vital that the courts work with community leaders, law enforcement and other elected officials to find community-based solutions that will effectively address mental health and substance abuse issues,” she said.

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“I can work with Judge Huffman, other elected officials, and first responders to collaborate and work toward solutions that treat and deter drug and drug-related problems,” Lopez said.

The county also could benefit from a veterans court docket, she said.

“While veterans are still held accountable under the law, existing resources are available to veterans at the local, state level at no cost to the community,” she said.

Lopez called herself a hardworking, service-oriented Miami County resident.

“I will work hard to apply the law, protect the citizens of Miami County and run a court that ensures for the efficient administration of justice. I want the citizens of Miami County to be proud of their justice system,” Lopez said.

For more information on her campaign, visit lopezforjudge.com and facebook.com/lopezforjudge.

Nasal said he wants “to continue to serve in a very challenging and rewarding career in law and the judiciary while serving the community in which I was born and have lived my entire life.”

Miami County Municipal Court Judge Gary Nasal
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Miami County Municipal Court Judge Gary Nasal

Nasal said the top issues facing the court are the continuing drug epidemic, new state limits on a judge’s discretion in setting bond for arrested alleged criminals and the shift from the state to local jurisdictions of primary responsibility for treatment and detention of severely mentally ill alleged criminals.

“The fix? There has to be a more cooperative relationship between the state and local jurisdictions,” he said. “It may well take upper court intervention into the constitutionality of some state action.”

“It will definitely take a commitment from all of the local providers of the services called into action by these bills to handle the immediate crises they may create,” he added. “I’ve been part of that cooperation before and will work diligently to foster an environment that allows us to deal effectively, fairly and justly with these issues and the people affected by them.”

Nasal said he does not “make an effort to be tough. I strive every day to be fair, just and impartial. It is an active exercise in which I engage every day. However, I do not disregard one’s responsibility for one’s own actions and the responsibility the law puts on each of us for those actions.”

For more information on his campaign, visit www.KeepNasalJudge.com and Facebook, Keep Nasal Judge.

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