Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Campbell County: Ward holds on to retain seat on Circuit Court

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

Campbell Circuit Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward held off challenges from a more experienced field to win election Tuesday to the judicial seat she has held for just seven months.

With 98.5 percent of the county's precincts, Ward has 12,493 votes compared to 11,471 for lawyer Steve Franzen, 9,706 for District Judge Greg Popovich and 679 for lawyer Charles Lester.

"I want to congratulate Julie and thank all of the people in Campbell County who voted," Franzen said. "We need to move on and support the judge."

Ward, of Alexandria, the first woman on the Campbell Circuit bench, has the least experience of the four candidates. She has been a lawyer for nine years but was appointed to the seat only this spring by Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Because her father, state Rep. Jon David Reinhardt of Campbell County, is also a Republican, she has endured criticism that her appointment was politically motivated. But she contends that the governor would not have appointed her if she wasn't qualified.

"The governor knew I could do this job, that's why he appointed me," Ward said early in the campaign. "I have a lot of experience and I've proven in the months since I was appointed that I am qualified."

Franzen ran on his 22 years' experience as a prosecutor, public defender, city attorney and staff lawyer for the Kentucky Supreme Court. He has a private practice in Newport. Franzen also sought the gubernatorial appointment.

Popovich said during the campaign that he is the most qualified because of the nearly 11 years he has spent on the Campbell District Court bench. He was endorsed by law-enforcement labor unions in the county. Popovich believed he was by far the most experienced candidate because of his years on the bench. He estimated he handled more than 75,000 cases in his career.

Lester, a lawyer for 22 years, did the least campaigning of the candidates.

In a survey of about 200 lawyers by the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, Franzen was named "well qualified" by 109 lawyers and "not qualified" by 15.

Popovich was rated "well qualified" by 108 lawyers and "not qualified" by 18. Ward was named "well qualified" by 18 lawyers and "not qualified" by 88. Lester received a "well qualified" score of 11 and a "not qualified" ranking from 48 lawyers.


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