Voter Guide

The counties included in the voters guide are: Montgomery, Warren, Miami, Greene, Clark, Champaign, Preble, and Butler.

NOTE: Not all communities have issues or candidates on the ballot.

Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge

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    Erik Blaine

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    Gerald Parker

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Biographical Information

Why are you running for judge?

What are the two biggest issues facing the office? How would you deal with them?

What qualifies you to be a judge?

What else do you want voters to know about you?

Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor has come out publicly against State Issue 1. Where do you stand on State Issue 1?

Experience Public/Judicial Offices Held: Common Pleas Court Judge, May 18, 2017 – present Assistant Prosecutor, Shelby County, Ohio, December 2007 – January 2012 Acting Prosecutor/ Acting Magistrate, Vandalia Municipal Court, 2013 – 2014 City of Whitehall City Attorney’s Office, August 2007 – December 2007 Private Practice History: Wright & Schulte, January 2012 – May 17, 2017 Kerrigan Boller Goettemoeller & Beigel, December 2007 – January 2012 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, September 2006 – December 2007 Professional Organizations, community service, etc. Montgomery County Reentry Policy Board – Legal Subcommittee, 2015 - Present Wills for Heroes – Lead Attorney, 2010 – Present UDSL Alumni Board of Trustees, 2009 – Present (Vice President, 2016-present) Boonshoft Museum Associate Board, 2009 – 2015 Access to Justice Gala Co-Chair, 2011 Ohio Judicial Conference Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association Carl D. Kessler Inn of Court Dayton Lawyers’ Club Ohio State Bar Association Dayton Bar Association American Association for Justice Kentucky Bar Association American Bankruptcy Law Forum Ohio Association for Justice Shelby County Bar Association National District Attorney Association Compassionate Care of Shelby County Board, 2011 – 2012 Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 2003-2008 DBA 5 for the Kids & DBA Get Behind the Bar volunteer, 2007 – 2012 Dayton Public Schools Debate Tournament volunteer judge, 2017 – 2018 Regional High School Mock Trial Tournament volunteer judge, 2016 – 2018 Opioid Town Hall presenter, 2017 – present
Education University of Dayton School of Law Juris Doctorate - May 2006 University of Dayton - Bachelors of Arts, May 2003 Capital Case Training Ohio Supreme Court Judicial Training, May and December 2017 United States Secret Service National Computer Forensics Institute, 2011 National Advocacy Center Prosecutor’s Trial Advocacy II, 2010 National Advocacy Center 2008
I am running to stay judge because my mother and grandparents escaped Communist Czechoslovakia to legally immigrate to America, leaving behind a justice system that was closed, corrupt, and inept. The judiciary became wholly subservient to the dictatorship and the one-party system of government. They escaped leaving everything else behind to find freedom and fairness in America.

My family instilled in me the great appreciation that the courts, and particularly an independent judiciary, are the keys to America remaining the beacon of light to the rest of the world.

Our future depends on judges taking seriously the scope of their duties. When judges overstep the bounds of their oath, either by effectively rewriting the law, they are picking up the legislators' pens and doing the work of all three branches of government unilaterally. That is exactly what my family escaped.

Every day as judge I strive to remain independent, to hear cases on their facts and the law as presented. I hold dangerous people accountable and also offer fresh starts to those ready to move forward from past transgressions. I protect the Constitutional rights of all who enter, as it is not only my oath as judge, it is also my honor to be part of the American justice system that was the salvation for my family and so many others seeking freedom.

I am not running for me. And as much as I cherish my family and the struggles they faced to come to America, I am not running for them.

I am running for us. There is no “me” or “them” in justice, just “us.” I look forward to continuing to serve our community as a fair, open, and proven judge.
The two biggest issues in our Common Pleas Court are the opioid epidemic and the critical need for community legal education.

The opioid crisis has hit our community hard, and the justice system has been working hard to address its many causes. Whenever someone comes before me on a drug related offense, I work to find treatment options that are closely tailored to the individual’s personal needs. I made a point to personally visit every treatment facility where I can refer people within the first months in office. I do this because I want to see how they actually work and because it helps me find that fit between the program and the person that increases the likelihood of a successful, long-term recovery.

The goal here is to hold people accountable and ensure that, ultimately, we create better citizens, not better criminals.

Another critical problem facing the Court is that there is a growing sector of the public who come to the Court without basic legal education, and as a result are often ill-equipped to assist their attorneys or represent themselves in important legal matters.

As judge, I am regularly in local schools to educate students about the justice system, including how cases progress from start to finish, the different types of criminal and civil cases, and the various roles of the different people who are part of the justice system. I have also held various “Joe with a Judge” events, so that community members could engage with me as a judge outside of the court system.

Before becoming judge, I created a comprehensive program for students about the legal issues of sexting and cyber bullying, educating thousands of students every year for several years. I have also spoken to various community and civic groups over the past decade about a wide range of legal topics to increase the community awareness of how the justice system functions and the resources available to those needing legal assistance.
Before becoming judge, I served as an assistant prosecutor, a private defense attorney, outside corporate counsel, and a plaintiff’s attorney. My strengths in numerous civil and criminal procedure coupled with my ability to thoroughly learn areas of law have prepared me to comprehensively, quickly, and accurately render sound legal decisions that have long-term future impact.

Since taking the bench in May 2017, I have presided over 1,400 cases, 900 complex civil cases and 400 criminal felonies from theft to murder. I have presided over more trials than any other judge on the General Division last year, both bench and jury trials.

I am uniquely qualified because I am the only judge on the Common Pleas bench to be named an Ohio Super Lawyer Rising Star 4 years in a row. Only 2.5 percent of attorneys in Ohio receive this distinction, based on the professional achievement recognized by elite colleagues from all across Ohio.

I earned the endorsements of both Montgomery County FOP 104 and Dayton FOP # 44 and Montgomery County FOP #104 and the International Association of Fire Fighters, 2981. I am proud that those who risk their lives every day to keep our community safe have confidence that as Judge I am the best qualified to serve the ends of justice.

I am also a 2014 Dayton Business Journal Forty Under 40 winner and have received awards specifically for my community service. Among other things, I have served as the Lead Trainer for the Dayton Bar Association Wills for Heroes program for the past 10 years and helped create the Wills for Veterans program 3 years ago.

I am also very proud of the work I have done with ex-offenders with the Montgomery County Reentry Policy Board – Legal Subcommittee. In 2011, I served as Co-Chair for the Access to Justice Gala, raising support for legal services to those in need in our community.

I am the most qualified because my professional background and community service enhance my work as Judge.
I want the voters to know that my wife, Sasha, and I have a bipartisan household. We became friends at the University of Dayton School of Law, and even during a highly contentious midterm election cycle, we never let partisanship got in the way of us becoming friends, studying together, and even forming law-related organizations together.

In her I found someone who not only had different opinions than I did but who had a very different background than I did - she was raised by a single mom in a blue-collar suburb of Detroit. Both of her brothers have life-altering conditions, one was diagnosed with severe autism at two years old and the other was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My wife’s journey to become a lawyer, in the face of many obstacles, shows her exceptional talent, perseverance, and optimism. I want the voters to know about her and our relationship because our seemingly unlikely match is built on mutual respect and a spirit of collaboration. While in many places partisanship has gotten in the way of intellectual discussion and accomplishing goals, our house is a house that can disagree without becoming divided. We share the same core values; honesty, hard work, community service, life-long learning, & above all a professional calling to improve the justice system.

If I had focused more on our differences, I would have missed my soul mate, and my life would never be as rich and beautiful as it is today. Anyone can claim to work across the aisle, but it takes more than just talking points, and it is more worth it than most people can ever appreciate.

My wife has been my biggest supporter, from when our community leaders first asked me to serve, to when the Governor asked me to become judge, to being on the campaign trail. Her love and support grounds the work that I do.

Some things are above politics - love and justice the chief among them. Voters can count on me to be ever mindful of that and keep my court focused on doing justice every day.
I am staunchly against Issue 1 because it will compromise the safety of our community and deepen the opioid epidemic.

As judge, I regularly order treatment for addicts and prison for traffickers. Treatment is a vital part of the justice system and I have personally had former defendants come back and thank me for pairing them with the treatment program that finally helped them to engage fully in the recovery process.

Many of the best treatment programs only become options for people with addictions once they face the possibility of prison. That often becomes the sobering moment that allows them to fully seek treatment and fully engage with a new, drug-free lifestyle. This is also true because Common Pleas Courts like in Montgomery County have significantly more treatment programs available. Municipal courts, where misdemeanors and traffic offenses are heard, have fewer treatment options and larger case dockets. Moving drug offenses from felony court and putting them in misdemeanor court moves the case load around without reducing it, at the expense of the people who need more time and attention on the problems that led them into addiction in the first place.

Issue 1 would mean that someone would have to bring enough Fentanyl into Montgomery County to kill 10,000 people before he or she could be charged with the lowest level drug felony. For context, the 2010 U.S. Census reported that the city of Oakwood had 9,202 people. That means that someone would have to possess enough fentanyl to kill everyone in Oakwood before facing even the potential of prison time.

The goal of removing the stigma of addiction is a good one, and one I work towards with my community engagement with the Opioid Town Hall Task Force and with recovery groups like Families of Addicts.

There are ways to protect our community that do not involve creating deep and dangerous loopholes for those who would bring enough fentanyl into our community to kill an entire city.
Experience Montgomery County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney (2007-2012)Associate Attorney for law firm Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz (2012-2016) Montgomery County Juvenile Court Magistrate Judge (2016-present) Experienced criminal and civil litigator-jury trial and bench trial experience in criminal prosecution, general civil litigation, personal injury, and worker's compensation.
Education J.D. from Northern Kentucky University - Salmon P. Chase College of Law; B.A. from Georgetown College (Major: English and Minor: Business Administration)
I have spent the majority of my legal career serving and advocating for the citizens of Montgomery County both inside and outside of the courtroom. Serving in these capacities has allowed me to see the cycle of families who come through our court systems. I tried felony cases in the exact courtroom that I am running for and unfortunately I am now seeing the younger children, siblings and family members of the people I once prosecuted. The "revolving door" cannot be overstated and I want to continue to be a part of the solution not just from behind the bench, but beyond the bench. I am committed to this community; if I am elected, you will not only see me behind the bench in my robe--you will see me in the community with my sleeves rolled up, working hard and helping to solve problems to make your community better. I am confident that my courtroom experience, qualifications, and community work makes me the better candidate for this seat. Furthermore, I seek to be a voice for those who appear to be losing faith in our judicial system. With so many people talking AT each other, it is time for a judge who is capable of getting people to talk TO each other about their issues within the legal system. Serving as a Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge gives me an opportunity to be a part of the solution and to bring something new, something more, and something different to this court. I plan to educate and inform those who do not know precisely the roles the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and law enforcement play in seeking justice.
In my litigation experience, I know that trial date certainty is frequently an issue for the court. Having designated ruling dates where I will rule on a motions and any other pleadings well in advance of the trial date immensely improves the efficiency of the Court. This is the fuel which brings every dispute to resolution. Many times parties are subpoenaed to court when it was obvious the case could have been resolved had motions and pleadings been ruled upon in advance. This wastes the precious time of all parties who simply need to return to their normal lives with the case resolved. Without trial certainty, victims are out of the loop as to what direction their case is going. Defendants remain unclear as to what may or may not be in their best interest. Finally, a judge should be held accountable for running his or her courtroom efficiently. From my experience trying cases, both criminally and civilly, a judge can easily lose control of his or her docket, if pre-trial motions and/or pleadings are not ruled upon swiftly and with a sense of urgency.

Another issue confronting the operations of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court is its lack of diversity behind the bench. If you go to the Montgomery County Common Pleas website you can read about the Court’s mission and vision. You will also read one of the ways in which the Court will achieve its mission and vision is by “Being culturally diverse…” And yet, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court General Division has never had an African-American male serve behind the bench. I feel this is a critical issue because more than 1/3 of our jails and prisons are made up of African-American males. Currently, there are no people of color serving behind the bench and I believe the judiciary should best represent the people of Montgomery County. In doing so, we can make some progress towards all people trusting law enforcement and our legal system.
As a former assistant prosecuting attorney and through my work in private civil practice, I have extensive experience in both civil and criminal law, including felony criminal case litigation, general civil litigation, personal injury, and worker's compensation. I have courtroom trial experience, trying both civil and criminal cases to a jury and to the bench. Currently, as a magistrate judge, I've acquired the administrative experience to run a courtroom efficiently and effectively. In addition, while in private practice, I frequently volunteered my time speaking with adult ex-felons about sealing and/or expunging their criminal records and assisting them in receiving their Certificate of Qualifications for Employment to improve their employability in the work force. I am proud to serve on the Mon-Day Correctional Institution Facility Governing Board with other Montgomery County Common Pleas Court judges. As a juvenile court magistrate, I created an after-school CrossFit program for at-risk youth where court-involved juveniles are brought to Centerville CrossFit for intense workouts, to learn life skills, while building self-esteem, discipline, and character. I am a frequent speaker at local churches, grade schools, and the University of Dayton School of Law. I currently serve as a mentor for students at Central State University and the University of Dayton School of Law. I have collaborated with Parity Incorporated and Montgomery Common Pleas Court engaging in a “Court Camp” for students. Parity Incorporated would later nominate me one of Dayton's Top-Ten African-American Males in 2018. This type of community-based work is the direction many courts around the country are headed in order to keep men and women from entering the court system, and my legal experience and my community involvement are perfectly suited to be a judge.
I am married to Janna, who is a Miami County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. We met years ago as Montgomery County Prosecutors. Currently, we reside in Centerville raising our two two beautiful daughters, Zoe (4) and Maya (2). I attended Georgetown College on a football scholarship where I served as captain and won two national championships. Although my college days are over, my wife and I are active in doing CrossFit Training. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and setting a good example for our children is very important to us. My family comes first and I am grateful that my mother lives close to us so she can spend time with her granddaughters. I grew up in Cincinnati and am a diehard Bengals and Reds fan. My wife grew up in Pittsburgh and it pains me to say that she is a lifelong Steelers and Pirates fan. This time of year makes Sunday afternoons very tense. We actually flip a coin as to which jersey our daughters wear.

We attend SouthBrook Christian Church in Miamisburg where I have the pleasure of serving on the Vision Team and take part in their Men's Group. In 2018 I was a recipient of the Top 10 African-American Males of Dayton Award for my work in the community and serving those less fortunate. I also received the WHIO Channel 7 "Making a Difference" Award. For me, it's simple, I love people. I want to continually invest in people so they can reach their full potential.

I believe State Issue 1 is well-intended in its mission to battle the opioid epidemic, however, it is not the only solution to this problem. Fighting the drug abuse crisis in Ohio requires a broad approach where a combination of treatment options, therapeutic community resources, education and possible prison time are available to a sentencing judge. I am concerned that if felony drug offenses are reduced to misdemeanors per Issue 1, it could also virtually eliminate specialized drug court dockets, which have been successfully implemented in many courts in Ohio, including Montgomery County, to work with low-level, non-violent drug offenders on probation to reduce drug use and repeat criminal offenders. Prison is not the only solution, but it should be available to a judge as an appropriate sentence alternative. The truth is, as a former prosecutor, I know that sometimes a life is saved by sending someone to prison. Also, Issue 1 seeks to reduce the sentences of many incarcerated individuals by up to 25% if they participate in certain rehabilitative efforts in prison. This option is even available to those convicted of violent crimes. A concern I have is that the victims of these offenses may be left with uncertainty as to when an inmate will be released back into their community and whether they will actually serve the entire sentence ordered by the court. With that being said, I am firmly committed to doing my part as a common pleas court judge to battle the opioid epidemic and work to find creative solutions to solve this crisis. As a magistrate judge, I have already implemented a community-based approach to sentencing that accomplishes the same goals that Issue 1 seeks to accomplish. Regardless, as common pleas court judge, if State Issue 1 becomes law, I will follow it.