2 sitting judges, past judicial candidate vying for seat in Lucas County Common Pleas Court


COLUMBUS — The Lucas County Republican Party is expected to submit the names of two sitting judges and a past judicial candidate to Gov. John Kasich for his consideration for appointment to the Lucas County Common Pleas Court bench.

County Domestic Relations Judge David Lewandowksi, Toledo Municipal Judge Michael Goulding, and Toledo attorney Kenneth Phillips were selected from among seven candidates interviewed by the party’s screening committee Wednesday night.

They are vying to fill the vacancy on the court created by the election of Judge James Jensen to the 6th District Court of Appeals.

“It shows that the Republican brand is alive and well and in demand,” said county GOP Chairman Jon Stainbrook. “These are high-caliber, high-quality candidates who screened for this committee, including two sitting judges who are beyond reproach.”

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the three candidates will be interviewed again by the governor’s office. There is no timetable for naming Judge Jensen’s replacement. Whoever is selected will have to run in 2014 for the right to complete the rest of Judge Jensen’s term through 2016.

Mr. Stainbrook expressed confidence that the governor’s appointee would be able to hold onto the seat in next year’s election, when candidates will run without partisan labels.

“All of the candidates have either run for office, won election, or are sitting judges and well respected,” he said.

Other candidates who interviewed were attorneys David Klucas, Josh Lanzinger, Shelly Musshel-Kennedy, and Jeff Wilson.

For Judge Lewandowski, a former county auditor who was re-elected last year to a new six-year term on the domestic relations bench, the appointment would mean he’d preside over criminal and civil cases instead of those involving family law and divorces.

Judge Goulding was appointed to Toledo Municipal Court in 2007 and subsequently won election to his own six-year term.

Mr. Phillips narrowly lost in November to incumbent Common Pleas Judge Myron Duhart, who had been appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, in 2010.

The screening committee consisted of some members of the central committee as well as others who are not central committee members.

Just one of the three candidates who made the party’s list to the governor had also screened before the Toledo Bar Association for this vacancy. In a letter sent in January to Mr. Kasich, the bar rated Judge Goulding “highly recommended.”

Mr. Nichols reported that Judge Goulding, Mr. Phillips, and Mr. Wilson had also reached out to the governor’s office independently of the local party’s considerations.