By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Domestic Relations Court Magistrate Jay Willis is seeking permanent election to the judge’s seat in November, but thanks to a move by Gov. John Kasich this week Willis will actually take the bench on Friday.
Kasich on Tuesday announced Willis’ appointment to serve as judge of the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, beginning Friday, Feb. 17, to serve out the remainder of Judge David Spears’ unexpired term ending Jan. 1, 2013. Spears retired Dec. 31, 2011, and he is not seeking re-election.
Willis must still run for permanent election to the seat in November to begin the full six-year term beginning Jan. 2, 2013. He submitted his petitions Oct. 11, 2011, seeking the Republican Party nomination for Domestic Relations Judge.
“I think this should hopefully help our campaign tremendously. I can’t run with a slogan of ‘re-elect’ because I haven’t actually been elected. So our actual official slogan will be ‘Keep Willis Judge’. Judicial candidates are bound by really strict ethical guidelines and I plan on adhering, and do adhere, to those very strictly. But I will be running as an incumbent; I will be running as the judge, and that should hopefully carry a lot of weight with the voters,” Willis said.
A graduate of Portsmouth High School, Willis received a bachelor’s degree from Capital University and earned his juris doctorate from Capital University Law School. Since 1999, he has served as a magistrate for the Scioto County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division and has presided over more than 7,000 domestic court cases. He is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and the Scioto County Bar Association, and the Ohio Association of Magistrates (OAM). He has been a trustee on the OAM board since 2010.
“I have been a magistrate here for 12 years, so really this is going to be a smooth transition,” Willis said.
Willis has no Republican Party challengers in the March 6 primary election, and will advance to face Democrat Jerry Buckler in the general election in November. Buckler congratulated Willis on his appointment and called it honorable, but said he doesn’t expect it will impact his chances in November.
“I believe the citizens of Scioto County will decide who the next judge will be, not Gov. Kasich,” Buckler said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.