THREE experienced, high-quality candidates are competing for a seat on the Toledo Municipal Court bench in next month’s nonpartisan election. It’s a tough choice, but The Blade recommends the election of JOSHUA LANZINGER.
Municipal judges serve six-year terms and earn $114,100 a year. The court handles misdemeanor cases, including some traffic offenses, that carry penalties of no more than six months in jail.
Mr. Lanzinger, 41, was appointed to Municipal Court by Gov. John Kasich last month. He filled a vacancy created when former Municipal Court Judge Michael Goulding was named to a seat on Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Mr. Lanzinger, a Republican and son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Lanzinger of Toledo, faces Republican Kenneth Phillips and Democrat Gretchen DeBacker in the Municipal Court race for a full six-year term. All three candidates have a variety of life experience and impressive legal backgrounds.
Mr. Lanzinger served two years in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2004 as a systems operator in Iraq. He worked as an assistant Ohio attorney general handling workers’ compensation cases. A 1997 graduate of the University of Toledo law school, he also has done civil litigation and worked as a general practitioner, including civil rights, tenant, and criminal traffic cases.
Mr. Lanzinger understands the importance of making people feel at ease in court, explaining sentences and procedures thoroughly, and providing judicial options that help people overcome problems. Hard-working, fair, and thoughtful, he has the qualities and temperament to make an outstanding judge.
His opponents are also experienced attorneys and well-rounded people. Mr. Phillips, 55, has practiced law for more than 25 years, including work as a public defender, state fraud investigator, assistant county prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney. He worked in a factory to pay his way through UT law school.
Mr. Phillips works with juveniles who have drug and alcohol problems, diverting some young offenders from jail to treatment programs. He also favors more judicial and treatment options for veterans, and possibly a veterans court. He says a night court could alleviate backlogs and give judges more time to spend on cases.
Ms. DeBacker, 43, has worked as a public defender and has handled cases involving juveniles, domestic relations, custody, and criminal defense. Before she earned a law degree from UT in 2003, she owned and managed a coffee house and bakery business that employed more than 100 people.
Certified by the Ohio Supreme Court for capital cases, Ms. DeBacker was rated highest among the candidates in this year’s Toledo Bar Association judicial poll. Active in the community, she holds board positions with the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo and Toledo Botanical Garden. As an outreach coordinator for the Lucas County Treasurer’s Office, she helped create a foreclosure prevention task force.
All three candidates are well qualified, but JOSHUA LANZINGER — professional and committed — is at the top of this competitive field. He has earned election to a full Municipal Court term.