3 Republicans face off in primary race for Clark County Municipal Court Judge

The three Republicans running for Clark County Municipal Court Judge in May. From left to right: Melissa Tuttle, Daniel Carey, Robert Lancaster Jr. CONTRIBUTED
The three Republicans running for Clark County Municipal Court Judge in May. From left to right: Melissa Tuttle, Daniel Carey, Robert Lancaster Jr. CONTRIBUTED

Clark County residents are voting on one countywide race in the May election — a Republican candidate for Clark County Municipal Court Judge.

Three Republicans: Melissa Tuttle, Daniel Carey and Robert Lancaster Jr. will face off in May 4′s primary election.

None of the candidates have previously served as a judge but all three have priorities of creating new “specialty dockets” for the court.

The candidate elected will face the only Democrat nominee, David Herier, in November’s general election. The winner of that race will replace incumbent Thomas Trempe, a Democrat who was first elected in 2003.

One additional candidate, Brian Driscoll, will be listed on the ballot. However, Driscoll told the Springfield News-Sun he has dropped out of the race and is no longer campaigning.

Driscoll’s decision to withdraw from the race came too late to have his name removed from the ballot.

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Tuttle was reelected Clark County Clerk of Courts in November 2020 after fending off a challenger, Tina Bleything, from within her own party in the primary election and then defeating Democrat Sheila Rice in the general election.

Tuttle was first elected to the position in 2016 after defeating longtime County Clerk Rob Vincent.

She said she made the decision to run for judge because she wants “to provide a fresh perspective to the bench.”

“I have practiced in over 90 courts in the state of Ohio and a majority of those appearances have been in Municipal Court,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle holds a law degree with a concentration in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Law Practice from Capital Law School and a bachelor’s degree in Law, Economics and Business from the University of Toledo.

She has been a practicing attorney for more than six years. Prior to that, she worked in banking.

If elected, one thing Tuttle said she plans to enact a new specialty court docket devoted to substance abuse and mental illness.

“Many times in private practice you could not distinguish what came first in a defendant’s life, mental illness or drug use. These programs help to serve the community and bring community partners to the table to help them get the specialized treatment the offender needs.”

Carey said he also believes there is a “clear benefit in the adoption of certain specialty dockets.”

“I have been an advocate for the creation of a drug court docket and making full use of the funding available through the State of Ohio and the federal government,” Carey said. “The high cost to crime victim after victim, the cost of incarceration, the loss of life due to overdose and the damage to families of addicts justify the investment into this venture. Drug courts have proven to be the most successful criminal justice innovation in recent history and we cannot afford not to start one.”

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Carey holds a law degree from Ohio Northern Law School and a Bachelor of Arts from Miami University. He has over 30 years of experience as a trial attorney, 18 years of experience in civil litigations and 11 years in criminal law experience as a prosecutor for the City of Bellefontaine.

“In my experience as a community-based prosecutor, I worked with community leaders in some of Springfield’s highest crime areas to reduce and prevent future crime. It was apparent that illegal drug use was behind the vast majority of the county’s criminal activity,” Carey said. “While drug courts have been proven to be effective in reducing recidivism, Clark County was not moving in that direction. I have received training through the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and observed drug court operations in preparation to finally commence a long-overdue drug court docket here in Springfield.”

While Tuttle and Carey want to create new mental health and drug dockets, Lancaster’s first priority is to create a “Veterans Court.”

“A Veterans Court is a specialty docket that honors our 12,000 veterans by offering them a treatment program in lieu of conviction,” Lancaster said. “The mission of a Veterans’ Court is to provide veterans with necessary treatment, service and support so that they may lead stable, law-abiding healthy lives as positive and productive members of this community.”

Lancaster said the court will help identify veterans that are looking to seek treatment for their mental health needs. The court will consist of a treatment team that is made up of mental health professionals, veteran representatives and volunteers.

In addition to creating Veterans Court, Lancaster also wants to “address the needs of everyone in domestic violence cases.”

“The continuing surge of these cases affects families, law enforcement and the court,” Lancaster said. “By providing necessary training, services and support, families can learn to provide stability and safety for themselves and others.”

Lancaster holds a law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law and a Bachelor of Art from Wittenberg University. He has over 33 years of experience as an attorney, including operating a private law practice in Springfield.

“My qualifications are well documented and readily available. I hope voters will ask their lawyer which of the candidates is actively engaged in the practice of law and which of the candidates is most likely to fulfill the duties of a judge,” Lancaster said.

Candidates for Clark County Municipal Court Judge

Melissa Tuttle

Age: 34

Education: J.D. in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Law Practice from Capital Law School; Bachelor’s degree in Law, Economics and Business with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Toledo.

Current employment: Clark County Clerk of Courts

Past employment: Attorney at law, PNC, Huntington National Bank, CVS Pharmacy, Independent Living of Ohio

Candidate website: Tuttle for Judge Facebook page

Daniel Carey

Age: 57

Education: J.D. from Ohio Northern Law School; Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Political Science from Miami University

Current employment: Attorney

Past employment: Chief Municipal Prosecutor for the City of Bellefontaine, Associate attorney with Thompson, Dunlap & Heydinger, Assistant prosecuting attorney with Clark County, Associate attorney with Gorman, Veskauf, Henson & Wineberg, Associate attorney with Martine, Browne, Hull & Harper.

Candidate website: Daniel Carey for Judge Facebook page

Robert Lancaster Jr.

Age: 59

Education: J.D. from University of Dayton School of Law; Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communication from Wittenberg University

Current employment: Robert Lancaster Jr., Certified Trial Lawyer

Past employment: Partner at Pavaltos, Catanzaro & Lancaster

Candidate website: boblancasterforjudge.com

Early voting hours for the May 4 Primary Election

April 26-30: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

May 1: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

May 2: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

May 3: 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Source: Ohio Secretary of State

Where to vote early

Clark County Board of Elections

3130 East Main St., Springfield

Telephone: 937-521-2120 Fax: 937-328-2603 E-Mail: clark@ohiosos.gov

Website: https://www.boe.ohio.gov/clark/

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