Candidates vie for 4th District Judge

By Kimberly Jenkins -



Submitted Photos


Submitted Photos

An open seat on the Fourth District Court of Appeals is up for grabs Nov. 6.

Republican, Mike Hess is running against Democrat, Valarie Gerlach. The 4th District Court encompasses the following counties: Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Vinton and Washington counties in Ohio.

When asked what makes Hess a better candidate for Judge, Hess said, ” I think my experience. I was a former criminal investigator for the state of Ohio, former prosecutor with civil and criminal cases. I graduated from Capitol University.”

As to what makes him a better candidate he said, “Having worked all various aspects of the court, been appointed by our local court as arbitrator and mediator, and my judicial philosophy…I believe in following the law. Hess is originally from near Cleveland.

Why would the voters of Scioto County want to vote for him, he stated, “Anything out of Scioto County would be heard, what my commitment to Scioto County, would be I’m very committed to my community and I’m very active civically and would be throughout the district. I’ve spent a significant amount of time in Scioto County this campaign season,” and said he would be here tonight(which was Thursday, Oct. 25th). He continued,”Obviously, with the court system there, I would be there, but I also plan on attending community events as a way to connect with the community and it’s a way to make sure you’re understanding the concerns they might have.”

Hess said he was appreciative for the opportunity to try and get to know the voters that he has run into, during the last year of campaigning. He encouraged everybody to get out and vote, “hopefully for me but if not, I hope they exercise their right. Valarie is a very good opponent she’s very professional and would be an excellent judge.”

Democrat,Valarie Gerlach, who is running against Hess, is from Scioto County and has a Portsmouth Law Practice along with both her parents. Gerlach says what makes her a better candidate is, “I graduated first in my class from law school and I clerked for a United States District court judge and as a law clerk. You assist the judge by doing legal research, writing opinions, doing analysis and anything else the judge needs, and that pretty much is what a court of appeals judge does. It’s the same thing that a law clerk does, I feel like that is my biggest asset for this position.”

Gerlach was a first year law student at Capitol University, while her mother was a third year law student there also. She said that was a kind of unique experience and that her mother was a big help to her, because she was ahead of her.

Gerlach has run for the Court of Appeals before against the very popular and well liked Matt McFarland, and she says she learned a lot due to that. She said that running this time, where there is no incumbent, which that part she says, she thinks is good.

She said that she is definitely looking forward to the chance of being judge because, “Honestly, my most favorite job I ever had in my life, was working for a judge, it was where all my natural talents and abilities were, I’m more of a behind the scene kind of person, versus a trial court judge, where you’re in the public eye all the time and I’m more suited for a Court of Appeals.” position.

When speaking on what makes her special as a candidate she said, “I feel being in Scioto County, I can relate more to the areas that encompasses that District. I think most of the counties are more like Scioto County, when it comes to some place like Pickaway county, where my opponent is from. they don’t have some of the problems and challenges some of the counties in the district does.”

Gerlach added, “I think he (speaking of Hess), and I have similar backgrounds, I was on law review and I was a former instructor for Shawnee State University and did formal legal writing at Capitol and currently I am the President of the Bar Association and I know he was past president of the Bar Association , so in a lot of ways, our credentials are quite similar. Fortunately, voters have good people to pick from, that’s a positive.”

Hess Submitted Photos

Gerlach Submitted Photos

By Kimberly Jenkins

Reach KImberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928

Reach KImberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928