Fourth District Race

By Frank Lewis -



Two candidates with extensive experience in the legal field will face off on Nov. 8 in the race for Judge of the Fourth District Court of Appeals.The incumbent is Matthew McFarland. His challenger is attorney Valarie Gerlach.

McFarland on why he believes he is qualified for the job.

“The court of appeals serves an important function,” McFarland said. “I have over 16 years of judicial experience as a magistrate in Common Pleas Court and over 11 years serving on the court of appeals since I was first elected in 2004. And then reelected in 2010.”

McFarland said he has authored over 1,000 principal opinions and has participated in over 2,600 appellate votes. Three judges hear each case.

“That experience is obviously very important to the citizens,” McFarland said.

He said he also appreciated his time as a magistrate.

“As an appellate judge you review cases in the trial courts,” McFarland said. “So that was a great experience at that level.”

McFarland has also sat on the Ohio Supreme Court four times.

“That gives me experience at the trial level, the court of appeals and the Supreme Court level,” McFarland said. “So I can see how each one functions, and that clearly gives me a broad view of the Ohio judiciary.’

Gerlach on why she believe she is qualified for the Job.

“I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to help people solve their problems in southern Ohio,” Gerlach said. “I have great training for the position and have demonstrated academic aptitude.”

Gerlach said she graduated number one in her class at law school and was a legal writing advisor.

“I clerked for two years for a Federal District Court judge, which required that I draft opinions and use legal analysis in the court on a daily basis,” Gerlach said. “I was a brief writer for the national court team and our law review while I was in law school.”

Gerlach said she has no lack of experience.

“These things coupled with the fact that I have been practicing law for 26 years in private practice, which keeps me in touch with the people, I think that qualifies me for the job,” Gerlach said.

Gerlach is a member of the Gerlach and Gerlach law firm in Portsmouth.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals serves Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton, and Washington counties. Along with McFarland, currently serving on the Fourth District Court are Scioto County resident Marie Hoover, Peter B. Abele and William H. Harsha.

For information on any judicial election voters can go to For Scioto County-specific judicial elections, information is available at

The Daily Times will be featuring profiles on the candidates from the area’s highest profile races every friday until election day, Nov. 8.


By Frank Lewis

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.