Stow -- More than 100 people crowded the VFW/Acker-Moore Memorial Post 175 on Fishcreek Road to meet candidates running in the Nov. 5 election.
The Stow group Citizens for Nonpartisan Politics sponsored the Candidates' Night Oct. 1, inviting candidates for Stow Municipal Court Judge and Clerk of Courts, as well as local races. Moderators were John Long and Karen Monbeck, with Master of Ceremony Bill Flinta and Jeannine Case serving as timekeeper.
Candidates spoke for two minutes about their background and qualifications, which was followed by a questions and answer period.
Stow Municipal Court Judge candidates are Kim Hoover and Kandi O'Connor. O'Connor was absent, but Hoover answered a question about the most important issue the courts are facing.
"Paying for it," Hoover said about the court building in Stow, opened in 2009.
Hoover said the Stow Municipal Court struggles to break even and blamed the county's largest mayor's court, the one in Cuyahoga Falls, the former location of the Stow Municipal Court.
"Cuyahoga Falls Mayor's Court takes cases that don't take any time and take dollars," Hoover said. "We take the longer cases."
He said the Stow Municipal Court loses 10,000 cases because of mayor courts.
"Stow didn't do that to Cuyahoga Falls when the court was in Cuyahoga Falls," Hoover added.
When asked why voters should be concerned about who is judge, Hoover said the courts impact families, if not someone personally.
"Most people won't appear before a judge, but if you or someone you know does, you want to make sure the person [judge] knows what they're doing," Hoover said.
He said he has the education and experience with 18 years as judge, and is someone who reflects the community and community values.
Stow Municipal Court Clerk candidates are the current Clerk of Courts, Diana Colavecchio, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin and Munroe Falls Mayor Frank Larson. They all agreed that modernizing the court with technology was the most important issue facing the court clerk.
Larson said online security to prevent hacking into records was an issue, and case management software could help the courts run more efficiently. He said his 10 years as mayor of Munroe Falls provides him with the experience for the job to collect funds and increase efficiency. Larson said he turned the finances around for Munroe Falls and can do the same for the courts.
Coughlin said technology and modernization was key. He said his 14 years in the Ohio legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as running a private company gives him the background to modernize the courts, which still use paper instead of computers. He emphasized he did not belong to a political party and could evaluate workers independently to ensure a fair, impartial and independent judiciary. He wanted technology to be in-house instead of a third party vendor to protect the security of sensitive court information.
Colavecchio has been the Clerk of Courts since January and said she implemented on-line payments, an internship program to free up employees and a higher case fee to pay for technology and modernize the system. She said she would work to make the transfer to paperless with thumbprints and electronic signatures for the judges' paperwork.
Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing