Former Ohio secretary of state Jennifer Brunner running for Ohio Supreme Court
By Nancy Molnar
By Staff Reporter
Posted Oct 14, 2019 at 10:04 PM
Updated at 5:42 AM
NEW PHILADELPHIA - Former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner appeared here Monday night to promote her candidacy for the Ohio Supreme Court in 2020. She is running against Justice Judith French, who was appointed by then-Gov. John Kasich in 2013. Although the judicial election is nonpartisan, Brunner is a Democrat, and French, a Republican.
Brunner, the first woman to serve as the state’s chief elections official, was the keynote speaker for the fall dinner of the Tuscarawas County Democratic Party.
She touched on the drawing of legislative districts that will follow next year’s federal census.
“The federal courts have said, U.S. Supreme Court has said, no more dealing with gerrymandering,” Brunner said. “Ohio passed a change to the way that we draw the districts. This is really sort of the groundwork for how we elect the people to whom we hand off the ability to govern us.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could just make sure it gets done right? Not a Democratic way. Not a Republican way. But a way where we do it right so that people have confidence in our democracy and our government.”
Brunner said the court deals with other important issues, such as those she now sees as an appellate judge: When can the police make you get out of your car? Is a chain of title thorough in a foreclosure? Can a criminal record be sealed after someone turns his life around?
“People just want a judicial system that’s fair, so all those things matter to me,” Brunner said.
“The reason that you have judiciaries is because of the rule of law,” she said. “We’re not beating each other up. We’re not slashing each others’ tires. We believe that the rule of law is enough that we can settle our disputes and live peaceably together.”
She said President Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban that kept people from seven countries from entering the U.S. caused a “howl” in her family.
One of her sons is married to a woman whose father is from Iran, and whose grandmother has a green card because three of her children are in Iran and three are in the U.S. The grandmother travels frequently to see her children.
Brunner also has a son-in-law from Guinea in West Africa who is likely to become a U.S. citizen by the end of the year.
“At the time, I said, ‘I’m so glad I’m in the judiciary because it is a backstop to protect the rule of law,’ ” Brunner said. “I saw as secretary of state, that the two things that protect the rule of law more than anything else are fair elections and judges.
“When I’m looking at a case, I may at look at it from the standpoint of, how is the law hurting people, is the law hurting people? And if it is, do I have the ability to move it in a direction where it won’t hurt people? I can’t change what the legislature said. I’ll stay in my lane, and that’s very important to me.”
Brunner said she enjoys traveling the state while campaigning.
“People in Ohio are good,” she said. “They’re hard-working. They try to do what’s right. They take care of their kids. They want to take care of their families. And they deserve the very best.”
In addition to her home in Columbus, Brunner and her husband, Rick, have a farm in Columbiana County.
In her introduction of the guest speaker, Joanne Limbach, former state tax commissioner, said Brunner’s political accomplishments are “stellar.”
Brunner was first elected as a common pleas judge in 2000 in Franklin County at a time when it voted predominantly Republican, Limbach said.
“She was able to defeat a Republican. She has never lost to a Republican,” Limbach said, winning applause from the dinner guests at the Venue.
Brunner started a felony drug court in Frankllin County that still operates. She currently is a judge on the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus. She was Ohio secretary of state from 2007 through 2011. She received the bi-partisan President John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award in 2008 for her public service. In 2010, she was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Prior to holding public office, she spent 17 years in private law practice.
“We’re going to help you be the next judge on the Ohio Supreme Court,” said Gail Garbrandt Chair of the Democratic Party of Tuscarawas County
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