This article appears on the Dayton Daily News website
Editorial: Buckwalter right for Greene County court
By the Dayton Daily News | Thursday, September 23, 2010, 04:40 PM
Click here to read a letter of support for each of the candidates.
Greene County is getting a new common pleas judge because Judge Timothy Campbell is retiring.
The fall contest isn’t as lively as the primary, when three lawyers sought the Republican nomination. Mike Buckwalter prevailed in that contest, and now he faces Democrat Joe Graf.
Greene County is overwhelmingly Republican, but, in judgeship races, the candidates’ political party doesn’t appear next to their name on the ballot.
Both candidates have good reputations; either would do well, but a slight nod goes to Mr. Buckwalter.
He’s an experienced lawyer who has handled a variety of cases, civil and criminal. He has been a magistrate, acting judge, arbitrator and law clerk. He clearly has been thinking about things he would like to do as a judge, things that would save time and money.
Mr. Buckwalter, 53, was in line to be a common pleas judge some years ago through appointment by the governor. But a political tussle at the time got in the way.
Now he’s going for the job the hard way: running in what is a low-profile, though still expensive, contest. He loaned his campaign $60,000 in the primary and says he may put still more into his race.
In the past, Mr. Buckwalter has been active in Republican Party politics. If he’s elected, he needs to stay out of the party’s work. As a judge in a small, tight-knit, Republican stronghold, he needs to be sensitive to being impartial and apolitical.
Mr. Graf, 63, was the Greene County public defender until he retired. He has his own law practice and has been an acting judge in Fairborn. He has been involved in a plethora of community activities. Some years ago he ran for juvenile court judge and lost in a primary by fewer than 100 votes, a hard way to lose.
Mr. Graf supports merit selection of judges. (Mr. Buckwalter does not.) He also would like the Greene County prosecutor to start a diversion program, which would divert some non-violent offenders from being charged (and getting a criminal record), provided they did certain things that showed remorse and a willingness to stay out of future trouble.
Both candidates are concerned about jail capacity in Greene County, what with one of the adult detention center’s four pods being mothballed and another being used for a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Mr. Buckwalter and Mr. Graf both could do a good job. This is no-lose election at least for voters. Mr. Buckwalter’s energy and passion give him the edge.