WARREN – An Ashtabula County deputy attorney and former state lawmaker will seek nomination as Democrats as a judge of the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas.
Dawn Cantalamessa, who has worked for the Ashtabula County District Attorney’s Office since August after more than 18 years with the Mahoning County District Attorney’s Office, and Sean O’Brien, a former state senator and member of the House who was also an assistant district attorney in Trumbull County, said they are running for the seat in the May 2022 Democratic primary.
Cantalamessa, from Warren, said she “Has the unique skills, experience and compassion to serve as a judge in the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.” Protecting the families of Trumbull County and serving the interests of justice are (my) highest priorities. “
Cantalamessa said she has handled more than 100 criminal jury trials, including 13 death penalty cases. Her husband, Enzo, is Warren’s legal director.
O’Brien said: âI applied the law as an assistant county attorney; I made the law as a state legislator and now my goal is to be a judge and to judge the law.
O’Brien, who recently moved from Bazetta to Brookfield and practices private law, added: âThe next logical step for me and the community is to stand as a judge.â
O’Brien will kick off his campaign on Wednesday at the Giuseppe Italian Market in Niles.
The post will open in next year’s election because the incumbent, W. Wyatt McKay, cannot run due to the state’s age limit on judges.
McKay, a Democrat, has held the post since 1987 and is the longest-serving common plea judge in Trumbull County.
Cantalamessa and O’Brien, who were members of the Ohio Democratic Party’s state central committee and served on the party’s executive committees, resigned last week to run as judge.
In Ohio, candidates for the Common Advocacy Court run in partisan primaries and then as non-partisan candidates in the general election.
Cantalamessa’s resignation was accepted on December 7 by the party and she was replaced by Kathy DiCristofaro de Niles.
O’Brien said he submitted his resignation over the weekend.
Judicial candidates are not permitted to hold office in a political party under Ohio Judicial Rules of Conduct.
In addition, O’Brien has said he is preparing to close his campaign account in the State Senate and that will be done when he deposits a treasurer designation for the judge. As of December 13, 2020, the last report he filed, O’Brien’s account stood at $ 93,769. O’Brien said he has since spent it by making contributions to various Democratic candidates, the Trumbull County Democratic Party and charities. A few checks have yet to be cashed, he said.
Ohio’s rules of judicial conduct do not allow O’Brien to use money collected from his Senate account for his judicial run and he has said he will not.
Cantalamessa said she will be promoted next week as Acting Deputy Chief Prosecutor in Ashtabula County. She was hired there in September, shortly after leaving her post as deputy prosecutor in Mahoning County after more than 18 years.
Cantalamessa was put on administrative leave in August by Mahoning County District Attorney Paul J. Gains after Common Plea Court Judge John Durkin removed her from an aggravated murder case. Durkin quoted it “Carefree indifference in search of the truth” regarding the evidence in the case and for failing to âPeriodically and regularly examine his file. “
Asked about it, Cantalamessa said, âIt was time to move on. The office did not appeal the entry of the judgmentâ¦ I lost confidence in the office.
Beth Aurilio de Niles, who said in May she would run as a Democrat for the judicial post, said on Monday she would not be running.
Aurilio started working in September as a judicial administrator and magistrate at the 7th Youngstown District Court of Appeal. She had previously served as Trumbull County Court Magistrate since 2007 and Deputy Court Administrator since 2014.
“The opportunity to work in the same role in the Appeal Division was so rare that I couldn’t pass it up” she said. âI won’t run this time. If I decide to run in the future, this (new job) will sharpen my skills as a judge.
On the Republican side, Sarah Thomas Kovoor of Howland is considering a race.
“I have not made my decision yet” she said. “I have a little more time.”
The deadline for submission is February 2.
She added: âTrumbull County is still a majority Democrat. It’s changing, but I don’t know if it’s changed enough. It takes a long time away from my practice to run. I have had close calls both times. It’s frustrating, to be honest with you.
Kovoor ran in 2020 for a seat at the 11th Warren District Court of Appeals, losing 2%. She lost 1% in 2018 for a seat in Trumbull County Family Court.
She also applied for the appointment of Governor Mike DeWine to a vacant post on the Court of Appeal. DeWine, another Republican, instead chose John J. Eklund of Munson in Geauga County, a former state lawmaker who had only applied for the post after the deadline, to seat in June.