Judge, clerk of courts races have competition

Duhart faces Phillips; Quilter opposed by Stamos

11/4/2012
BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nearly two years after being appointed to the Lucas County Common Pleas Court bench, Judge Myron Duhart is opposed on this week's ballot by Kenneth Phillips.

The race for judge is one of two contested races in the courthouse. Also facing opposition is Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter, a Democrat who faces Republican challenger Constantine Stamos.

A Toledo native and a Democrat, Judge Duhart graduated from St. Francis de Sales High School and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army. While in the military, he was commissioned as an Army Judge Advocate General Corps officer.

Judge Duhart, 42, received his undergraduate degree in political science from Wright State University near Dayton and his law degree from the University of Toledo college of law. He practiced law for 14 years before being appointed to the bench in 2010 to replace retiring Judge Charles Doneghy.

READ MORE: The Blade 2012 Voters Guide

Prior to taking the bench, Judge Duhart said he gained legal experience in both state and federal courts and in civil and criminal cases. Since joining the judiciary, the judge said he has been “fortunate and blessed” to work in such a respected and professional environment.

“I’d like to think I’ve been fair, firm, and consistent,” he said. “You are the face of justice for many folks who have not been here before. It’s important that you never loose sight of that and treat people with dignity and respect.”

Republican Kenneth Phillips, who is making his first attempt at elected office, has practiced law for 25 years in a variety of capacities, including as a state fraud investigator, an assistant Licking County, Ohio, prosecutor, and a criminal defense attorney. He received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from Ohio State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo college of law.

Mr. Phillips, 54, of Toledo, said he has gained experience practicing in many courts throughout the state. He works in Juvenile Court as a staff attorney for an alternative court where certain teen offenders who have drug and alcohol problems may be diverted from jail into treatment programs; he would like to set up similar options for veterans.

With the last of his six children recently enlisting in the Army, Mr. Phillips said he believed it was time to pursue his life-long dream of serving on the bench.

“I’m really looking at this as another way that I can serve the community,” he said, noting that his family has a longstanding history of service by way of enlistment in the military and local police department. “I think I can add something that otherwise wouldn’t be there.”

First appointed to the Lucas County clerk of courts post in 1999, Bernie Quilter is hoping to retain his position and continue digitizing the office. In the last few years, Mr. Quilter has instituted online docketing and is working with judges to create a more “paperless” courthouse by upgrading technology.

“Next move will be to bring on electronic filing; everything will be paperless in the courthouse,” Mr. Quilter said. “We operate in here that if you’re not progressing, you’re regressing. Technology is progressing.”

Mr. Quilter, 53, of Oregon, is a graduate of Cardinal Stritch High School and the University of Toledo, where he received his undergraduate degree in political science. In addition to technology, he has worked to improve collection of unpaid court costs and has contracted with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to help in the recovery of outstanding and unpaid court costs.

Challenger Constantine Stamos said he offers voters a chance at fresh leadership in the clerk’s office. A lifelong Toledo resident, Mr. Stamos, 38, is a graduate of Whitmer High School and the University of Toledo, where he received a degree in psychology and philosophy.

Mr. Stamos’ first run for public office was in 2009, when he unsuccessfully sought an at-large seat on Toledo City Council. Earlier this year, he attempted to challenge incumbent Democratic Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, but a defective petition kept him from the ballot.

Considering himself technologically savvy, Mr. Stamos said he chose to oppose Mr. Quilter because he believed he would be a benefit to the office, which serves as custodian for important court records.

“As I researched the office more, I felt like I would be a good fit for it. It’s a very important position and I’m very technology adept,” he said. “One way I think we can bring about some change in Lucas County is to get new faces in county offices.”

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates is unopposed. Also running without opposition are Common Pleas Judges Stacy Cook, Gary Cook, James Bates, and Linda Jennings as well as Domestic Relations Judge David Lewandowski, and Juvenile Court Judge Connie Zemmelman. Judge James Jensen is unopposed for the 6th District Court of Appeals after garnering more votes than opponents in the Republican primary.

Contact Erica Blake at: eblake@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.