- By Laura A. Bischoff Columbus bureau
Gov. John Kasich appointed Youngstown area Republican Mary DeGenaro to the Ohio Supreme Court, wasting no time in filling a vacancy triggered by Democrat Bill O’Neill’s decision to resign from the bench to run for governor.
O’Neill’s resignation, accepted by Kasich, takes effect Jan. 26. His departure from office will mark a 50 percent reduction in Democrats holding statewide elected office in Ohio. The only other Democrat is U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is up for re-election this year. All seven seats on the Supreme Court will now be held by Republicans, including four women.
DeGenaro has been on the 7th District Court of Appeals since 2001 and has 14 years experience as a private practice attorney. She earned her law degree from Cleveland State University.
“I was very impressed when I learned she has a hobby in beekeeping. And if anybody were to question her, she knows what it’s like to be stung. I would warn any of those who attempt to put pressure on her that it won’t work,” Kasich said.
DeGenaro must run in November 2018 to retain the seat. O’Neill, whose term expires Jan. 1, 2019, was ineligible to run for re-election due to age limits for judges.
Kasich said he is discouraged that partisanship seems to be seeping into the judiciary. “I’m not surprised to hear that. Everything is becoming so political and everything is so divided. It’s just a very discouraging thing to see as an American who is always felt as though you call them like you see them. She’ll do that,” Kasich said.
DeGenaro said “I will work diligently, fairly and collegially with the other justices on the court and I will do my part to make sure the public continues to have confidence in their supreme court where the rule of law and the protection of our precious constitutional rights are the guiding principles.”