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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.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Who might be appointed Lake County Probate Court judge?

The late Ted Klammer who served as Lake County Probate Court Judge will be missed by countless members of the community.

As the Probate Court judge since 2003, Klammer had responsibility over matters such as a person’s estate, appointing guardians, issuing marriage licenses and many other legal duties.

To keep the court operating, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor assigned retired Stark County Probate Court Judge R.R. Denny Clunk to serve a three-month assignment. Sitting judges in the county Common Pleas Court will also fill in when needed.

Ohio law states it will be the governor’s responsibility to appoint a new judge, who must be a Lake County resident.

Klammer was a Democrat, Gov. John Kasich is a Republican. In all likelihood, the appointed judge would be a Republican and it’s quite possible the person who fills the unexpired term would decide to run for a new term during the November 2014 election.

The Lake County Republican Party will likely make some recommendations to the governor, but ultimately it is Kasich’s choice.

There are several GOP attorney names floating around who could be among those considered for a potential appointment by the governor.

What about Kirtland resident Jason Wuliger, who was appointed as Lake County Recorder by the county GOP last year after former Recorder Frank Suponcic resigned? Wuliger is a former Lake County Juvenile Court magistrate.

Perhaps Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Patton, who also is Willowick Council president, might be interested?

Geoffrey W. Weaver ran for the Probate Court bench in 2002 as the Republican Party’s nominee against Klammer. Heidi M. Koenig, who has served as a Cuyahoga County magistrate, also ran in that November 2002 race as an independent candidate.

I think if Lake County Prosecutor Charles E. Coulson were interested he could be picked, but I’m not sure that he is.

Other potential names I’ve heard are Lake County Probate Court Magistrate Lora Lynne Stalnaker; Assistant Lake County Prosecutors John O’Donnell and Karen Kowall, who ran for Willoughby Municipal Court judge in November 2011; and Assistant Geauga County Prosecutor Mark Bartolotta, who previously served as a Lake County assistant prosecutor.

Another responsibility a Lake County Probate Court judge has is to make appointments to the three-member Lake Metroparks Board of Park Commissioners, who serve three-year terms.

Park commissioners now serving are Ellen Foley Kessler, whose term expires Dec. 31; Dennis E. Eckert, whose term expires Dec. 31, 2014; and Frank J. Polivka, whose term expires Dec. 31, 2015.
It is worth noting that the unexpired term of Klammer runs through Feb. 8, 2015.

So the person who is appointed by Kasich would likely have the ability to reappoint or appoint new people for two park commissioner seats.

Filed petitions

People recently filing petitions with the Lake County Elections Board were Ron Ely for Wickliffe Council Ward 3, Bill Margalis for Wickliffe mayor and John Plecnik for Willoughby Hills Council at large for the two-year term commencing Jan. 1.

Taken out petitions

Joshua Pennock has taken out petitions with the Lake County Elections Board for Painesville Township trustee, Dan Hill has taken them out for Timberlake Council.


To send information for this column, the deadline each week is Wednesday at 5 p.m. Email or fax is preferred.


n Concord Township Trustees Paul Malchesky and Christopher Galloway re-election fundraiser 5 to 7 p.m. April 1 at Harry Buffalo in Painesville Township. See Malchesky, Galloway or Connie Luhta.

n Dennis Morley will host a kickoff fundraiser for his Eastlake mayor campaign, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 17 at Trader Jack’s Riverside Grille in Eastlake. See Donna Vaughn or Barb Morley.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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