Supreme Court nominee makes visit to Ironton

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

Hawkins running for open seat vacated by Kennedy

The November election will be a busy one for the Ohio Supreme Court and, on Thursday, the first of likely many nominees for one of the seats on the ballot paid a visit to Ironton for the campaign season.

Dan Hawkins is running for the open seat on the court, vacated by Republican Sharon Kennedy when she won election to the chief justice position in 2022.

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Hawkins, a Republican, stopped by Weymouth Hills in Ironton on Thursday for a fundraising event.

“I’ve been a judge for 11 years in Franklin County — the general division of common pleas,” Hawkins said of his background. “I’ve handled some very big cases and very important cases and have has a heavy caseload.”

Prior to that, Hawkins served as a prosecutor in Franklin County, where he was head of the special victims unit.

“I specialized in prosecuting crimes of violence against women and children — homicide, sex assault and child abuse cases,” he said. 

Three seats are on the ballot this year for the court.

In addition to the open seat Hawkins is running for, two Democratic incumbent justices, Michael Donnelly and Melody Stewart, will be defending their seats.

The court currently has a 4-3 majority of Republicans. Republicans are hoping to build on their majority by taking one of the Democratic seats, while Democrats are seeking to hold those seats and flip control by winning the open seat, in which Hawkins will face Democratic nominee Lisa Forbes, who currently serves as a judge on the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals.

“I had some folks reach out to me and say, ‘You’ve been a judge for 11 years and have good experience and a good reputation. You should run statewide.’” Hawkins said. “ So I’ve been out there the last couple of years, meeting folks across the state.”

Hawkins announced his candidacy last year, his first statewide run, and was endorsed by Ohio’s Republican Party in May.

“I feel like I’ve got the experience to make the step,” he said. “I want to make sure the court maintains a good, conservative balance for years. I’ve got a wife and three kids and I want them to grow up in Ohio that is safe, free and prosperous like I grew up in.” 

Hawkins was asked about his judicial philosophy and approach to the bench.

“I think judges should just call balls and strikes,” he said. “A judge’s role to say what is the law and not what they think the law should be. My job as a judge is to interpret the law and not invent new laws or legislate from the bench. If you disagree with the law, it is up to the legislature to change it and that’s how our system works.”

The general election is set for Nov. 5.