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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

‘Velvet Hammer’ leaving state’s high court

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton has announced her intention to retire from the court by the end of the year.

Stratton is the second longest serving justice on the court, after appointment by former Gov. George Voinovich in 1996.

Ohio voters elected her to three six-year terms, most recently in 2008. Her term is set to expire Jan. 1, 2015.

She began her career as a trial lawyer in central Ohio, and in 1989 was elected as the first female judge on Franklin County Common Pleas Court, where she became known as “The Velvet Hammer” for her approach to sentencing in serious felony cases.

I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with Stratton on several occasions when she has visited the area.
Our conversations for the most part weren’t about specific court cases or legal matters, but rather about life and her interest and work in the mental health field.

It is that area Stratton referred to in her resignation letter and she discussed her involvement to provide mental health services to offenders and assisting veterans in the criminal justice system.

She referred to this involvement as occupying a place of growing importance ultimately culminating with her decision to leave the bench.

“I have decided to dedicate myself to them even moreso, not only here in Ohio but on the national level,” Stratton said.

To have an Ohio Supreme Court justice serve as an visible advocate for mental health issues has been invaluable to consumers and to people who work in the mental health field.

“Any time we have somebody with her level of expertise, her level of authority who brings recognition to mental health and the effectiveness of treatment, it’s such a bonus and a strength for us,” said Kim Fraser, executive director of the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board. “She’s been a very strong voice for us. Our consumers are sometimes disenfranchised and pushed to the side. She’s always been willing to tackle the tough subject and bring awareness.”

I’ve seen how passionate Stratton has been when she talks about mental health issues. She says her heart tells her this is the right decision and I’m betting that it is.

Election day workers needed

The Lake County Elections Board needs people to work Nov. 6 as election day poll workers. Shifts start at 6 a.m. and conclude typically around 8:15 p.m. Pay for a poll worker in the county is $107.91 for Election Day, and presiding judges receive $127.91. Workers also receive $20 for a training session, which lasts about two hours. For details, contact the Elections Board in Painesville.


n Lake County Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish, 17th annual golf outing with special guest Judy Moran, 1 p.m. shotgun start Friday at Powderhorn Country Club in Madison Township. See Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour or Ernie Koenig.

n Werner Barthol, candidate for Lake County prosecutor, hosts a Summer Celebration Fundraiser, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Metroparks Painesville Township Park. See James Falvey or Kelly Barthol.

n Fundraiser for Geauga County Common Pleas Court Judge Forrest Burt, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Bond Building, Century Village Museum in Burton. See Carol Stafford.

n Old Fashioned Country Picnic for Geauga County Commissioner Mary Samide, 4:30 to 7 p.m. June 8 at S.O.S. Inc., in Munson Township. See Jackie Moskal.

n Lake County Sheriff Daniel A. Dunlap, 21st annual golf outing and steak dinner June 8 at Painesville Country Club. See Frank Leonbruno or Sheryl DePledge.

n Jason Wuliger, candidate for Lake County recorder, hosts pasta dinner with special guest U.S. Rep. Steve LaTourette, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 12 at Cebars Madison Tavern in Madison Township. See Dick Shreve or Pete Wayman.

n Bob Patterson, candidate for Lake County treasurer, fundraiser with special guest state Sen. John Eklund, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 28 at Historic Perkins Estate in Mentor. See Sandy Patterson.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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