Candidates face up in expensive Mahoning County judge race

While both candidates have years of experience, this is their first time campaigning

Anthony D’Apolito & Shirley Christian.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – There is certainly experience among the candidates running for Mahoning County Common Pleas Court judge. There just isn’t any campaign experience in the expensive race against Shirley Christian and Anthony D’Apolito.

Christian was appointed to replace Judge James Evans in 2014. This is her first campaign for office.

Anthony D’Apolito is running for his first publicly-elected position as well.

Combined, the candidates have spent around $200,000 on the race. The money went to television and radio ads, mailers and signs — all necessary to get their names out there, the candidates said.

Their experiences in the courtroom have been similar, but they have worked with different age groups.

D’Apolito has worked as a magistrate at the Mahoning County Juvenile Court for 14 years, previously working as an assistant prosecutor.

“Once you get to the adult system, there’s more culpability you put on the offender,” he said. “In Juvenile Court, you’re more inclined to work with this person because they are young. They did make a mistake.”

Christian was appointed to the Common Pleas Court in August 2014, beginning her term October 1 of that year. Prior to becoming judge, she was a trial lawyer for 28 years with Harrington Hoppe and Mitchell Ltd.

“In the adult court, our focus is on punishing the offender and protecting the public,” she said.

During her time on the bench, Christian said she has resolved over 2,000 cases and reduced the court backlog by 36 percent. She said she believes she is the best candidate because she has the temperament needed for the job.

“I don’t have highs. I don’t have real lows. I think I’m very even-keeled, no matter what’s going on around me,” she said.

D’Apolito says he has heard over 30,000 cases in his 15 years as a juvenile court magistrate, and he cares deeply about the community.

“I care about protecting the people that live here, and I care about helping the people that want to be helped,” he said.

Both candidates believe this spot on the bench is important to Mahoning County — to protect the public, while hearing serious criminal and civil cases, plus multi-million dollar disputes between businesses.

“One mistake here can result in a person going free that shouldn’t be free,” Christian said.

“The decisions I make here every single day will affect more people than any decision the president makes,” D’Apolito said.