Three candidates are vying for an open seat on Toledo Municipal Court: Democrat Gretchen DeBacker and Republicans Joshua Lanzinger and Kenneth Phillips.
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Voters in Toledo, Ottawa Hills, and Washington Township elect Toledo municipal judges. The terms are for six years. The candidates’ parties are not identified on the ballot.
The contested seat was vacated in August when Municipal Judge Michael Goulding was appointed to a position on Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Lanzinger, 41, was appointed to the Municipal Court vacancy on Sept. 11 by Republican Gov. John Kasich and is running to retain the seat. He is a former assistant attorney general and is the son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger. He has the Lucas County Republican Party’s endorsement.
Judge Lanzinger served in the U.S. Army from 2002-2004 as a network switching systems operator, including a tour in Iraq, and was an assistant Ohio attorney general handling workers’ compensation cases. He received his law degree from the University of Toledo in 1997 and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Dayton in 1994.
Ms. DeBacker, 43, is the favorite of the Toledo Bar Association, garnering recommended or highly recommended votes from 76.3 percent of responding lawyers, compared with 62.1 percent for Mr. Lanzinger and 51.7 percent for Mr. Phillips.
Ms. DeBacker was removed by magistrates of Lucas County Probate Court from 10 guardianship cases between 2006 and 2011 for failing to file mandatory reports on time. Ms. DeBacker said she has handled hundreds of cases in municipal, state, and federal court and continues to be appointed to represent indigent defendants.
Ms. DeBacker came to Toledo with her family when she was in fourth grade. She is a graduate of Notre Dame Academy and Bowling Green State University. She was a founder and part owner of the former Sufficient Grounds coffee houses.
She got her law degree from the University of Toledo in 2003 and has been in private practice since while also having worked part-time for six years for the Lucas County Treasurer’s Office.
Mr. Phillips, 55, received his undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and his law degree from the University of Toledo in 1988. He has had a general law practice in Toledo since 2001 and has been a college law instructor in North Carolina, in private practice in Columbus, an assistant Licking County prosecutor, administrator of corporate security for an insurance company, and a fraud investigator and staff attorney with the Ohio Department of Insurance.
Mr. Phillips’ law license was suspended for four years for failing to keep up with continuing legal education requirements and was found in contempt in Licking County Domestic Relations Court in 2001 for falling behind in child-support payments.
Mr. Phillips said the contempt citation was modified and that he never missed any subsequent payments. He said the suspension was not a disciplinary issue.
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