Collins swears in, says thanks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

The heavy support that Judge Oakley Clark Collins enjoyed during the race for the Ironton municipal judge’s seat was out in full force to see the judge sworn in on Wednesday.

A packed house watch Collins’ fifth swearing in, including a crowd that spilled into the hallway outside the municipal court.

After being sworn in by Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Richard Walton, Collins was cheered on by a standing ovation, a sentiment of admiration that he echoed to the supporters and campaign workers that the judge said came through for him “with flying colors.”

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“We won with the best people; we won with you,” Collins said. “That’s the reason I’m here. It’s all because of folks like you, and I just can’t tell you how much that means to me, and how much it means to me to have you here. I just can’t thank you enough.”

The ceremony was the epilogue, of sorts, to one of the most heated political races in recent history. Collins took 58 percent of the vote with 5,369 cast in his favor. Opponent Kevin Waldo finished the election with 3,951 votes.

Although the judge said that the race did make him appreciate things more, he didn’t seem eager to reconsider the way his office is run.

“We’re looking forward to the next six years and continuing things that we’ve done,” Collins said. “We’re not going to change a whole lot of things, because we think we’ve done a good job for the past 24 years. But we do have some new things going on, and good programs that we’re going to be continuing.”

Collins also took time to thank all of his staff, even bringing them before the crowd for an ovation of their own.

“My opponent said that they were overpaid, but believe me, they’re not overpaid,” Collins said. “They do a great job.”

Collins also took the time to remember his brother Mark Collins, who passed away in September.

“It was kind of a tough year for me, personally, we lost Mark, and that was tough right in the middle of the campaign,” Collins said. “But I had a couple of good guardian angels up there looking out for me.”

Collins said he thought this brother would have approved of the way the campaign was run, before once again thanking those who helped make it possible.

Perhaps the sentiment of the admiring crowd and the appreciative judge was best demonstrated after Walton joked that Collins had set $10 in costs to everyone attending.

“He’s well worth it!” a few in the crowd shot back.

Collins responded with a smile, “You can’t run off my people for 10 bucks!”