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Published: Wednesday, 11/9/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Wagner will join municipal court

2 incumbents win

BY TONY COOK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Michelle Wagner won the sole vacant seat in Toledo Municipal Court during Tuesday's election, while two incumbent judges successfully fended off challengers.

Ms. Wagner, a Democrat, will be the newest member of the seven-judge court. The 44-year-old Sylvania Municipal Court prosecutor won a three-way race to replace Judge Francis X. Gorman, who is retiring because of age limits on judges.

She received more than 60 percent of the vote, beating Republican attorney Mark Davis and Toledo chief prosecutor David Toska, a political independent, according to unofficial results from the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Mr. Davis' defeat comes after a campaign plagued with problems. In recent months, two legal malpractice lawsuits were filed against him, he was sued for nonpayment of a $29,982 advertising bill, a judicial panel found that he overstated his academic accomplishment, and his campaign manager resigned after his law license was suspended for a disciplinary action.

Ms. Wagner, who has also handled cases relating to zoning, health, tax, and liquor violations, will be the second female judge on the court.

"We worked really, really hard for a whole year," she said Tuesday night. "I think the voters chose the best candidate. I very much look forward to taking the bench and serving the people of Toledo. I view it as service, not a seat."

Two sitting judges also won contested races Tuesday.

Judge Robert Christiansen, 63, a Republican, battled off first-time political candidate John Coble, 55, a longtime local lawyer and Democrat. Judge Christiansen, a former common pleas judge who was fighting for a second term on the municipal bench, received 58.2 percent of the vote compared to Mr. Coble's 41.8 percent.

Judge Christiansen focused his campaign on his 30 years of experience as a judge and his strong defense for victims' rights, especially in repeat drunken-driving and domestic-violence cases.

Also victorious was Judge C. Allen McConnell, a 67-year-old Democrat who was seeking a third term as the court's housing judge, which handles foreclosures, landlord-tenant disputes, and nuisance complaints.

He defeated Republican Josh Lanzinger, 37, an assistant Ohio attorney general, Iraq war veteran, and son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger. Judge McConnell received 67.9 percent of the vote, compared to Mr. Lanzinger's 32.1 percent.

Judge McConnell, a former Toledo city councilman and assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said his victory was "just a reflection, I believe, of the acceptance by the community of the hard work that I've done in addressing the housing issues of Toledo."

A fourth Toledo Municipal Judge, Timothy C. Kuhlman, also retained his seat. He ran uncontested.

Municipal court judges serve six-year terms.

Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.

Contact Tony Cook at: acook@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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