Experience key to GOP Justice DeGenaro’s campaign

By Merri Hanjora - mhanjora@limanews.com

LIMA — Republican Supreme Court Justice Mary DeGenaro stopped in Lima Wednesday morning as part of her statewide campaign tour for the November 2018 election for Supreme Court Justice. She is running against Democrat Appeals Court Judge Melody Stewart of Cuyahoga County.

DeGenaro was appointed as the 159th justice of the Ohio Supreme Court on Jan. 28 by Gov. John Kasich. She replaced Democrat Justice William O’Neill who resigned to run for governor. With DeGenaro’s appointment, all seven seats on the Ohio Supreme Court is currently held by Republicans.

DeGenaro served almost 17 years as a judge on the Seventh District Court of Appeals in Youngstown prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court. She was elected to her seat on the appellate court in 2000 and re-elected in 2006 and 2012. The seventh district covers eight counties: Mahoning, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe and Noble.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University in 1983 and her juris doctorate from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1986.

For her first statewide election, she plans on visiting all 88 counties prior to the November election.

“It is a beautiful, beautiful state. You meet so many wonderful people and learn so many interesting things. I have a wonderful job that I get to serve a wonderful state. It’s such an honor and running around and seeing it is a real blessing,” said DeGenaro. “I have maybe 20 more counties to visit.”

DeGenaro’s campaign focuses on her philosophy of civility.

“I’m a big proponent of civility. We are seeing a decline, and we have for probably a good 10 years. We have forgotten that we can disagree without being disagreeable. Thumper’s mother said [in ‘Bambi’], ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ We’ve got to be nicer to each other,” said DeGenaro.

She stands on her 32 years of experience in law and the fact that she has been serving in the position since January as an appointed justice.

It will be 32 years since I passed the bar. My practice was focused on appellate work. I have been an appellate judge for 17 years, so my professional focus has been on appellate practice and appellate judging as opposed to a dual track career choice. I have the advantage that I have been doing the job. I’ve got six more years of experience on the appellate level. Over the course of my career, I have dealt with every issue imaginable that will come before us because of the nature of the eight counties I represented. I sat with the Supreme Court over the course of my career 10 times, I have sat by assignment also with half of the other appellate districts, so I have statewide experience, and that makes a difference. Every day that I’m there I’m doing the job, and there is no learning curve at this point,” said DeGenaro.

She believes in justice for all and believes the Constitution is for every citizen.

“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution doesn’t say we only protect good people that are law abiding citizens. That Constitution protects all of us, and that’s the beauty of the document; protecting the Constitutional rights of all. The most expansive power government has is to indict you, try you, convict you and take away your freedom. The founders were very aware of that. Our primary responsibility as justices is to protect the Constitutional rights of those, especially those that are least powerful. The Constitution is not a technicality; it is vital,” said DeGenaro.

Her passion and understanding of those she works for are clear in her duty to fulfill a public role.

“I just care about this stuff so much and it matters. I love my work, I love the opportunity to serve people. I care deeply about this stuff and want to continue to do that because I feel so blessed and privileged in my career path to help people and make a difference in their lives,” said DeGenaro.


By Merri Hanjora


Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.

Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.

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