LIMA – The verdict is in: Terri Kohlrieser will be the next judge of the Allen County Common Pleas Court.
The decision was made by voters who cast their ballots Tuesday in the Republican Party primary election. And it wasn’t close. The current assistant Allen County prosecutor polled 7,613 votes to 3,944 for her opponent, longtime Lima attorney Lawrence Huffman, during Tuesday’s primary balloting.
No Democrat filed as a candidate for the judge’s seat, clearing the path for Kohlrieser to assume the bench at the start of 2019.
While the overwhelming majority of those voting in Tuesday’s judicial race were lifelong Republicans, more than a few Democrats likely crossed party lines to have their voices heard in a key county race that will have lingering ramifications for all county residents, potentially for decades to come.
Both candidates claimed to have the upper hand when it came to experience, with Kohlrieser citing more than a decade of service as an assistant Allen County prosecuting attorney and Huffman referring to his 36-plus years as an attorney who has represented thousands of clients in criminal and civil cases in more than a dozen Ohio counties.
In the final analysis, however, voters sided with Kohlrieser.
“I’m just overwhelmed; so grateful,” Kohlrieser said from her home as her victory was assured. “There are so many people who helped me in so many ways.
“I walked more than 200 miles knocking on doors and I’ve never been prouder to be an Allen County resident than when I was meeting those residents.”
Huffman was brief in conceding defeat. “Looks like the people have spoken and we’re going to have a new judge,” he said.
In exit polling during Tuesday’s balloting, Kohlrieser seemed destined for victory
Three members of one family voted Tuesday at the American Legion hall on South Shore Drive in Lima. All voted for Kohlrieser; all for different reasons. Terry Snider, 70, said he doesn’t know Kohlrieser personally, “but I’ve heard a lot of positive things about her.” Gloria Snider, 75, said she had heard both candidates speak. “Mr. Huffman and his family have been in politics for many years and I think she (Kohlrieser) deserves a chance. I think she will be able to make the proper judgments.
Thomas Snider, 43, simply believed Kohlrieser “has more experience.”
Jennifer Velazquez, 35, also voted at the Senior Center. Her vote went for Kohlrieser.
“I don’t know her, but I think she has the experience and the knowledge. And I like the way she prosecutes child abusers. I think she’s the best person for the job.”
Kohlrieser will take her seat on Jan. 1, 2018, to replace current Judge David Cheney on the common pleas court bench. Cheney was prevented from seeking another term in office due to statewide age limits on judicial candidates.