Judge Jennifer Brunner, who recently announced her candidacy for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020, encouraged local Democrats at their annual fall dinner to be active in the upcoming elections and stand up for their values.
Brunner was the keynote speaker at the dinner, held at the American Legion Post 25 in Washington C.H. on Thursday. She serves as one of eight appeals court judges of the Tenth District Court of Appeals in Franklin County; she previously served in elective office as a Common Pleas Judge (2000-05) and Ohio Secretary of State (2007-11).
Introduced to the large crowd by Fayette County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chairperson Judy Craig as a “good friend to Fayette County” and “the best Secretary of State we ever had,” Brunner spoke about some of her great memories in the community.
“It’s so great to be back in Fayette County, you have always welcomed me. Some of my best memories from the 2006 campaign for Secretary of State were when we were at the Scarecrow Festival (in downtown Washington C.H.),” said Brunner. “I come to places like this with good people who seem happy to be together. It’s really hard to describe what a joy it is to be able to travel the state of Ohio and go to places that you would never go otherwise in your ordinary business.”
Brunner addressed the upcoming election, the great importance of the 2020 election for Democrats, and her decision to run for the Ohio Supreme Court.
“I’ve had a lot of chance to read and think a lot in this quiet life as a judge,” she said. “Looking into the way things have fallen into place, in 2020 we have our census and every 10 years after our census we draw our district lines. This will be the first time after the voters adopted an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that we do this in a formulaic way that’s supposed to be fair, that’s supposed to end gerrymandering, and not so much on politics and sharp edge computers to draw districts that don’t look like they reflect the commonality of any one community. And then the U.S. Supreme Court comes out with a decision and says federal courts have no place in deciding issues in the states relating to gerrymandering.”
Brunner emphatically stated that she just wants to do it right.
“As a judge or even as Secretary of State when I deal with issues where we just had to follow the law or had to break tie votes in boards of elections, I didn’t always side with the Democrats, I didn’t always side with the Republicans. I tried to think about from a public service standpoint of what is best for the people. As a judge on the Tenth District Court of Appeals, I felt the same way. I don’t want to position myself as a liberal judge. My opponent, Judy French, has already positioned herself as a conservative judge. I think to be fair to the people, they want to know that when they come to court there’s a blank piece of paper in front of that judge. They prepared, they read the law, but they’re going to hear both sides and they’re going to write their decision up after they hear it, not before anybody opens their mouth.”
Brunner again emphasized the importance of the 2020 election.
“This is doable in 2020. There are two seats being held by Justice French and Justice (Sharon) Kennedy,” Brunner said. “So I’ll be running against Justice French and (Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge) John O’Donnell will probably be running against Justice Kennedy.”
The Ohio Supreme Court is now 5-2 Republican. If the Democrats unseat the two Republicans, the court would become 4-3 Democratic.
“Those will be the only two statewide candidates besides the President, but maybe we’ll get a statewide ballot issue,” Brunner said. “This is the year where we really could restore a real balance on the court so that when we get the tough issues in front of us, like a challenge to redistricting, we’re going to do it in the next 10 years in a way that’s fair to everybody.”
Brunner closed her speech by talking about the importance of the “rule of law.”
“When you look at the impeachment issue with this President, think about what the rule of law is,” she said. “It is the very thing that allows us to hand off sub-governments to people in the executive branch, the judicial branch, the legislative branch…because we believe in a higher ideal, and that is we don’t settle disputes by slashing each other’s tires or by punching each other. Or we don’t get selfish and poison the waters so it hurts people downstream. We have laws and rules that we agree as a society allow us to all live together peaceably and peacefully because we know we’re all in this together. So my job as a judge is to protect that rule of law. I believe that whatever is said and done, no matter what the outcome, our democracy will be tested, our democracy will be strong, and it will be because of people like you who believe in the rule of law, and our country will be better and stronger because of it.”
Also during Thursday’s dinner, Beth Workman announced her candidacy for State House of Representatives, 92nd District. Tristina Allen also spoke to the crowd in support of Desiree Tims, who is a candidate for the U.S. Congress, 10th District.
Reach Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.