Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Incumbent leads judicial battle


Kessler, Olivas in close race for Domestic Relations bench

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COMPLETE COVERAGE
Cincinnati.com Special Election Coverage
HAMILTON - Butler County Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus held an early lead to retain his seat, while former Hamilton Mayor Adolf Olivas and court Magistrate Eva Kessler were locked in a close race for Domestic Relations judge in early Republican primary returns Tuesday.

Niehaus, 59, of St. Clair Township, has served as a judge for juvenile cases since 1981. Niehaus led Greg Stephens with 68 percent of the vote, with 53 percent of precincts reporting.

Niehaus was rated "highly recommended" by the Butler County Bar Association. Stephens, 38, the Butler County chief juvenile division assistant prosecutor, was "not recommended" by the Bar Association.

Stephens of Fairfield Township ran an aggressive campaign his first time on the ballot, blanketing the county with blue "Republican Stephens" signs.

With 53 percent of precincts reporting unofficial returns, Kessler led Olivas with 51 percent of the vote in see-saw tallies.

Kessler, 55, of Hamilton, was running in her first race for elective office. She has worked 19 years as a magistrate in Domestic Relations Court, which has a vacancy because of the retirement of Judge Leslie Spillane.

Olivas, 48, served on Hamilton City Council from 1984 to 2002, including three stints as mayor. He has been an attorney for 23 years, with a concentration on family law issues.

In both judicial races, the Republican primary winner will take office next year because the Democratic Party has no candidates on the November ballot.

In the contest for a seat on the Middletown-based 12th District Court of Appeals, Republican H.J. Bressler of Hamilton had a large margin in his home county over Suzanne L. Wynn of Brown County. In Butler, he had 68 percent of the vote with 53 percent of precincts reporting unofficial returns.

Bressler, 64, has served 23 years as a Butler County judge, in Area and Common Pleas Court. He's chairman of the Ohio Juvenile Sentencing Commission, and a member of the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.

Wynn, 40, of Georgetown is a U.S. Treasury tax law specialist. The former Clermont County resident has been an attorney for 12 years. Vote totals from the eight counties in the district will be tabulated today. The primary winner will take office in February because there is no Democratic opponent.

The vacancy was created by the retirement of Judge Anthony Valen of Middletown. The 12th District Court of Appeals, based ij Middletown, serves Butler, Warren, Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Preble, Fayette and Madison counties.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




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