MEDINA — Former Brunswick mayor Gary Werner edged out Brunswick Councilman Joe Salzgeber in the Republican Party primary for Medina Municipal Court judge Tuesday night.
With all precincts reporting, Werner had 2,296 votes (43.25 percent) to Salzgeber’s 2,126 (40.05 percent), according to unofficial results from the Medina County Board of Elections. Frederick C. Bougher was third with 887 votes (16.71 percent).
Werner, Salzgeber and Bougher were competing for the party’s nomination to succeed Judge Dale H. Chase, who is retiring at the end of 2017 after 30 years’ service.
The winner will face two candidates in November — independent Bob Campbell and Democrat J.R. Russell. The salary for the judicial position is $125,850 a year.
The candidates could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Werner, 54, has been a trial attorney for 23 years. He practices law in Ohio and California and serves as a magistrate in Brunswick Mayor’s Court.
The Brunswick native served as mayor from 2010-13, vice mayor, councilman, and as a Board of Zoning Appeals member.
He said in an interview in April that he is open to a courthouse expansion that is being discussed with Medina City Council. But he noted that increasing the judge’s hours on the job could go a long way in dealing with the court’s growing workload.
Asked how long a judge’s hours should be, Werner replied, “As long as they need to be.”
Werner said he is resistant to adding another courtroom and judge to the municipal court until there is a proven need.
“I’m very frugal when it comes to spending other people’s money,” Werner said.
Salzgeber, 48, has practiced law in Medina Municipal Court since the late 1990s.
He first worked as a prosecutor and then as a private attorney defending civil, criminal and traffic cases.
Salzgeber said in an earlier interview he wanted to introduce two specialty dockets to the court’s workload.
“I think it’s time for a specialized veterans court docket to address the needs of U.S. military veterans with cases before the court,” he said. “It’s been working well in other counties, so it’s time to try it here.”
He said he also supports the creation of a drug court docket in municipal court.
“Like the common pleas court, this could include jail time for detoxification and as a consequence for failing drug tests,” he said. “The main goal would be to break the cycle of drug dependency at the criminal misdemeanor level.”
Wadsworth native Bougher began his public service career in 1973 as a Medina police officer. At age 26, he became the youngest person in department history promoted to sergeant. He began attending the University of Akron Law School part time while still on the force.
He ran a local private law practice for many years after graduation.
Bougher, 65, later began working for local health care manufacturing company Invacare as in-house counsel. He now supervises the company’s staff of 50 attorneys who work nationwide.
Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.