Clermont County voters will determine this November who sets as judge in the county’s court of common pleas.
On Nov. 7, Clermont Court of Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride will face challenger Ron Mason for the position which McBride has held since 1995.
Common Pleas Judge Robert Ringland will run unopposed in a separate race, and Municipal Judge Victor Haddad is running against attorney Ken Zuk in a third race for judgeship in the court of common pleas.
McBride, the incumbent in this election, was appointed to a judge position in the county by Governor Voinovich when a position was vacated by a judge who moved to the juvenile court.
“I was appointed a county court judge in February of 1991,” said McBride. “I was a county court judge through 1991, and a municipal court judge from 1992 to December of 1994, and a common pleas judge from 1995 through today. This is something I’ve long been interested in, and was an attorney when I held political office. I started out as a township clerk, then a trustee, then a county
commissioner for seven and a half years. I’ve had this in my mind for quite a while.”
Judge McBride said that being a judge is not only something he enjoys, but is something that he excels at. According to Judge McBride, maintaining a reputation as a good, fair and honest judge is an important goal, and one that he has accomplished through years in the position.
“This is something I enjoy doing and something I think I’m very well suited to doing,” said McBride. “This is something I do well. I have a reputation for being thoughtful in my decision making, and hardworking, and I take pride in having that reputation. I put the time in to make the best decisions I can make. Ultimately, when you look at the qualities of a judge, you look at how they exercise their judgement in the cases that come before them. It’s something I feel I do well, and hope the electorate will feel the same way. Good judicial temperament is required. A lot of people come through the courts, and they need to feel that the court is neutral and listening and making correct decisions.”
It is that experience, said McBride, that separates him from his opponent, whom Judge McBride said is a good man.
“I have a lot of respect for my opponent,” said McBride. “The main difference is I have 15 years of experience as a judge, and what a judge is called upon to do is different from what an attorney in private practice is called upon to do. I think I have a solid record. Every judge starts sometime, and that’s what my opponent is trying to do.”
Ron Mason, on the other hand, said that it is his experience that he feels will make him more qualified for the position which Judge McBride currently holds.
A lifelong resident of the county, Mason is currently an attorney, and as such, he said he has a better idea of what people who appear before a judge are going through, which would make him a good candidate for the position.
“We have different backgrounds,” said Mason. “My background has been representing families and individuals, minors and children for 21 years. I feel that lends a much different approach to how you would handle a courtroom. I’m familiar with a wide range of issues a lot of people are going through when they go to court looking for a resolution. I would think Jerry would not have been exposed to that wide range of problems people have as closely. People may think that either background is better, but in my opinion, I’d rather have my background. If you don’t have that, it’s hard to understand their situation when they come before you.”
Mason said that making good decisions is only good if it doesn’t wreck a person’s life while they are waiting. Having his perspective, Mason feels that he will not only be able to provide fair judgements, but also quick ones.
“People sometimes have more than two sides coming in, you have conflicting interest,” said Mason. “They deserve fairness, there should be no bias. They deserve a quick resolution. If you take a decision under advisement for a long period of time, you effectively put a great number of lives on hold.”
A member of the Clermont County Public Defender’s office for 16 years, Mason said that he’s worked on just about every type of case there is, which gives him a good idea of how to approach judgements from the bench. Mason also added that county residents deserve a choice in these elections, which generally only feature one candidate to choose from.
“I like being a lawyer, but I’ve always had concerns and frustrations with the fact that, in Clermont County, we have unopposed races,” said Mason. “There is only one choice on the ballot. You don’t have a choice. I also started looking at the court system in Clermont County and had some ideas of how to improve the court system. I’m not too young to be a judge at 49, but a lot of people wait until the end of their career to run for judge, but I’m ready to start now.”