Thursday, February 6, 2003

Oliver in lead for judge opening

3 people on list submitted by GOP

Compiled by Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Warren County Prosecutor Tim Oliver is one of three candidates for the Domestic Relations judge position the Warren County Republican Executive Committee recently recommended to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.

Domestic Relations Magistrate Brenda Dunlap and Springboro attorney Chris Cornyn also made the cut at the Jan. 28 executive committee meeting, where six candidates gave speeches about why they should get the seat.

Oliver is considered the front-runner - he chaired Taft's campaign in Warren County in 1998 and 2002.

The governor, however, has a propensity for appointing females when he gets the chance, and Dunlap has strong credentials. Cornyn isn't known by Taft and his staff, so his chances aren't good, insiders predict.

If Oliver gets the appointment, expect a hot race for his spot as prosecutor between Rachel Hutzel, the assistant prosecutor, and Blue Ash prosecutor David Fornshell.

Naturally, Oliver said, Hutzel gets his vote. She has worked in the prosecutor's office more than 10 years.

"She has the experience in all facets and all areas of the office and would do a great job," he said.

As for himself, his desire to be a judge - and having a soft spot for kids - is well known in Warren County's Republican Party and courthouse. The Domestic Relations Court handles 10,000 cases a year that involve visitation, child support and custody.

"What is more important than making sure the children are properly dealt with in a divorce?" Oliver responds when asked why he wants the seat.

"We certainly do not want the children to suffer in a divorce. Children are the victims in a divorce, and you want to make sure people don't forget about them."

Lt. Gov. Mike Allen? Meanwhile, Hamilton County's top attorney, Mike Allen, thinks Oliver would make a fine judge.

"He's got a quiet, firm and fair demeanor and will be a great addition to the bench," Allen said. "But I will sure miss him as my neighboring prosecutor."

Allen apparently is getting a little itchy himself in the prosecutor's seat. He confirms he is contemplating running for a state office - but insists he won't abandon his job anytime soon.

Allen, a Republican, says he plans to run again for the prosecutor's office in 2004 but might go after the lieutenant governor post in 2006 or beyond.

"Four years is an eternity in politics, and we'll see what happens," Allen says. "I am enjoying what I am doing here."

Cates, Nein appointed: State Rep. Gary Cates, R-West Chester, and Sen. Scott Nein, R-Middletown, were appointed this week to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.

JLEC monitors compliance with Ohio's ethics law as it applies to the legislative branch. The committee is authorized to interpret and enforce the ethics law's provisions, receive and review financial disclosure statements and render advisory opinions on ethical issues raised by officials and employees of the Ohio General Assembly.

JLEC also is responsible for administering Ohio's lobbying laws.

Cates is serving his second term as speaker pro tempore, the second-highest position in the Ohio House.

Nein serves as chairman of the Senate Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee and is a member of the Energy, National Resources and Environment Committee; Public Utilities Committee; and Rules Committee.

Not electable: She dropped out of the running before Norwood's Republican Party could officially reject her.

But party officials said they planned for some time to endorse Rick Gibson, a Hamilton County assistant prosecutor, as the party's law director candidate rather than Vicki Garry, who is in the last year of her term.

Garry has sparked trouble for resigning Mayor Joe Hochbein since she took office, they said.

"We didn't think she was electable," said Jerry Klems, one of the party's central committee members.

"Basically, the day she took office, she went on her own. She indicated that she had a problem with Mayor Hochbein, so she kind of disaffiliated from all of us.

"Over the four years, she's been a cause of friction. You can't have somebody not working with all of the departments. (Gibson) is a nuts-and-bolts man, and he'll make a fine law director."

Garry said that Klems doesn't have the right to judge.

She boiled her feelings down to this concise statement: "I decided not to run, damn it."

Susan Vela

Send insider news and tips to reporter Jennifer Edwards at or fax to (513) 755-4150.

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