Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday appointed state Rep. Jeff Rezabek, a long-time family law attorney, to fill a vacancy on the Montgomery County Juvenile Court bench caused by the death of Nick Kuntz.
Kuntz, who died May 6 after suffering a stroke on vacation, was set to retire after serving 24 years on the bench.
Rezabek was already running for the seat. The Clayton Republican won the GOP primary May 8 and faces Democrat Helen Wallace in the November election.
Kasich putting him on the bench may give Rezabek an advantage in the contest. He is expected to be sworn in on July 12.
Wallace, of Washington Twp., has worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney for delinquent children; served as a guardian ad litem in abuse, neglect or dependency cases; and represented clients in custody cases, according to her campaign website.
Rezabek practices family and juvenile law as well as criminal defense. He beat incumbent Democrat Roland Winburn in November 2014 to become a state representative and in 2016 he fended off a challenge from Democrat David Sparks.
In the Ohio House, Rezabek has worked on juvenile criminal justice issues, reforms to the state’s underage marriage law, and changes to foster care and guardianship laws. He earned his law degree from University of Dayton in 1997 and served as a substitute magistrate in the Dayton Municipal Court from 2009 to 2012.
Rezabek’s early departure from the House creates an opening for his legislative seat. Republican J. Todd Smith, of Germantown, is running against Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley, a Democrat.
The 43rd district includes Trotwood, part of Dayton, Clayton, Brookville, New Lebanon and Harrison, Jackson and Perry townships, and all of Preble County. The district is considered a swing district that will be hotly contested.