Voters have a Kettering clerk of court choice for first time in years

The exterior of the Kettering Municipal Court in the Kettering Business Park is part of the transformation that has taken place 17 years since the closing of the former Defense Electronics Supply Center.
Caption
The exterior of the Kettering Municipal Court in the Kettering Business Park is part of the transformation that has taken place 17 years since the closing of the former Defense Electronics Supply Center.

Credit: Jim Witmer

Credit: Jim Witmer

For the first time in nearly 20 years, voters in four South suburb jurisdictions will see a contested Kettering Clerk of Courts race.

Voters in Kettering, Centerville, Moraine and Washington Twp. can choose between two attorneys on the Nov. 2 general election ballot: Centerville Democrat Keara Dever and incumbent Republican Rob Scott, of Kettering.

Andrea White served as clerk at the Kettering Municipal Court since 2004. She left that job after winning the 41st District state representative’s seat in 2020. In January 2021, the Montgomery County Republican Party picked Scott to fill the vacancy.

White never faced opposition after she first won the clerk’s office. She beat Democrat Frederick Krumholz in 2003 and was unopposed in 2009 and 2015. (The office has a six-year term.)

Dever and Scott praised White and her stewardship of the office. Scott cited what he called an “unwritten rule” in local judicial elections — once someone wins office on their own for the first time, typically that office-holder is never opposed again, he said.

Dever is an attorney with the VanNoy law firm, practicing mainly in immigration law, criminal defense and domestic relations, with pro-bono work as part of her practice. She’s also coaches girls tennis at Bellbrook High School.

This is Dever’s first run for elective office.

“I’m running because generally we’ve gotten to a point in politics where people have kind of lost their way,” she said. “I think elected officials need to serve the public. And that’s what I am, a public servant.”

Keara Dever, candidate for Kettering Clerk of Court. Contributed
Caption
Keara Dever, candidate for Kettering Clerk of Court. Contributed

As an attorney, she has worked in some 40 different courts and clerk’s offices across Ohio. “I want to take the best things and put them in Kettering Municipal Court,” she said.

If she wins, Dever said she wants to improve accessibility at the court, for attorneys and unrepresented defendants and citizens. Updating the court’s web site and “making sure everything online is easily accessible,” she said.

“Another thing that’s important to deal with that I feel Kettering Municipal Court is falling behind on is the lack of e-filing,” she said. “It makes for more efficient record-keeping and filing. It cuts down on costs.”

She also would like to work with public defenders and the University of Dayton School of Law to create an assistance program, “so we can get people in there to help the public with issues like licenses, fines, records-sealing.”

Scott said he and Mike Foley, Montgomery County clerk of courts, this year secured $3.5 million in federal American Rescue funds for a new regional courts case management system. The system will be paperless and “streamlined” for the public and attorneys, with text notifications and other features on offer, Scott said.

The system will be implemented in all court houses in the next few years.

“As a result of that, it’s going to save hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxpayers in the jurisdictions,” said Scott, who has been an attorney for 11 years at Oldham & Deitering, LLC. “We’re going in together on it. I don’t have to buy a new system.”

Scott, a former Kettering City Council member and vice mayor, points to other aspects of his work since January, citing budget-savings of up to $200,000, as well as increased collections. When he took office, the court was due $2.6 million in unpaid fines and costs, some of those amounts reaching back to the 1990s.

Now, the amount due stands at $1.9 million, and Scott said he expects that to be $1.5 million shortly.

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Kettering Municipal Court typically sees about two or three eviction notices a day, sometimes more. Scott cites efforts to direct tenants and landlords involved in those evictions to federal funds set aside expressly to stave off evictions.

Developed with Tom Robillard, Kettering director of planning and development, the “Stay Put” program has saved 31 people from being evicted from their homes, disbursing $125,000 in federal funds, Scott said.

Scott believes he has support in the jurisdictions, but he said he takes nothing for granted. He cites endorsements from FOP chapters and others.

“No one will ever outwork me, and I plan on sticking to that,” he said.

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