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Judge of the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, Probate/Juvenile Division

A virtual Candidate Forum was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Athens County on Tuesday, September 15 with Judicial candidates Ken Ryan and Zach Saunders answering questions from the public.The recorded forum can be viewed:The City of Athens Youtube Channel https://youtu.be/hB2Bob8Wh9oThe City of Athens Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=639693906973038&extid=iiFfMMhIGGKcv1hbPeriodically on The City of Athens Government Channel, Spectrum Cable Channel 1024NOTE: The candidate responses below were collected by Judicial Votes Counts. Visit Judicial Votes Counts to find out about all of Ohio's Judicial races https://blogs.uakron.edu/judicialvotescount/.

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  • Candidate picture

    Kenneth Ryan

  • Candidate picture

    Zachary Saunders

Biographical Information

List your judicial experience (courts and years)

What about your non-judicial legal experience qualifies you to be a judge?

Why are you running for this particular court seat?

Age 50
Residence Athens County
Campaign Email Address kenneth@ryanlawathens.com
Social media https://www.facebook.com/KenRyanForJudge/
Current Job Attorney and owner of Ryan Law Office Co., LPA
Education B.Mus.Ed. from Ohio Wesleyan University; M.Mus.Ed. from Ohio University; J.D. from the University of Dayton
Experience Attorney for Ryan Law Office Co., LPA 2014 to present; Attorney for Eslocker & Oremus Co., LPA 2007 to 2014; Legal Clerk for Eslocker & Oremus Co., LPA 2004 to 2007; Board member for Athens County Board of Elections 2011 to 2019; Teacher for Trimble Local School District 1992 to 2004.
Family Married to Amy J. Ryan (Taylor) of Coolville with one son, Wesley, who is 12.
Affiliations Current and founding board member for Rising Suns charitable pharmacy; Current member of Southeast Ohio Citizen Review Panel providing oversight to the child protection system; Past board member for The Athens Foundation; Past and founding board member for Athens Professionals for Philanthropy; Past member of Coolville Village Council; Past participant in Leadership Athens; Past participant in Ohio University Summer Band, Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Singing Men of Ohio; Past member of Ohio Association of Election Officials; Past participant in Athens Red Cross Dancing with the Athens Stars event – Judges’ Trophy winner; Guest speaker for local foster parent and women’s recovery organization; Past foster and adoptions service for local animal rescue organizations; Past advisor and judge for Athens County Mock Trial program; Member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Parkersbug, WV; Volunteer Attorney for the Athens County Poverty Clinic.
No prior official judicial experience
I am well versed in the issues facing this judgeship a result of my personal and professional experience. I have been a private practice attorney for more than 12 years; owning my own practice since 2014. In addition to a career long practice in estate planning and probate administration, I have been appointed by the Athens County Juvenile Court to represent more than 100 children in cases of abuse, neglect or dependency and cases of delinquency. In representing children, I have interacted with foster parents, kinship homes, case workers at Athens County Children Services, guardian ad litems, and therapeutic service providers.

Before attending law school, I was a public school teacher in the Trimble Local School District for 12 years. I have taught hundreds of students ages 10 though 18 in compulsory and elective education with more than 11,000 hours of classroom experience.

I have also been appointed by the Athens County Probate Court in over 600 cases for individuals with mental illness who are facing commitment to the mental health hospital or the imposition of involuntary medications. In so doing, I routinely review medical records and meet with nurses and psychiatrists. I have attended treatment team meetings. My concern for the mental health community stems from my personal experience. I come from a family of six sons. Our mother had pronounced bi-polar disorder that first manifested itself when I was a young child and continued through the balance of her life. My older brother Paul had severe schizophrenia and suffered periods of homelessness and hospitalizations until he took his life during my first year of law school.

I have also been the guardian for more than a dozen individuals and currently serve as guardian for 8 adults through the Athens County Probate Court. These individuals have a varying combination of mental, physical and/or cognitive impairment. In this service, I have worked with doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, pharmacists, Athens County Job and Family Services and the Board of Developmental Disabilities. I am currently on the local Citizens Review Panel providing oversight of the child welfare system and on the board of Rising Suns Pharmacy, a charitable pharmacy being planned for the working poor. I served on the Athens County Board of Elections and the board of The Athens Foundation. My wide array of experience in this area makes me particularly qualified to be judge.
I am running for the Athens County Probate and Juvenile judge because my mission of service to my community has given me the necessary experience and abilities that make me particularly suited for the position.

Since high school, I knew that I would pursue a career of service, which first began as a teacher. I wanted to expand my capacity for service by becoming a local attorney. It has been my privilege to represent many of the children, mentally ill, and elderly members of our community. My knowledge and experience have also given me the opportunity to serve on the governing body of several charitable, civic, and governmental organizations. By remaining dedicated to a path of service, I have found myself with the proper experience and abilities that make me well suited for judgeship. I believe, that by serving as judge for the Athens County Probate and Juvenile Court, I can fully realize my mission of service and put my experience and abilities to their greatest use. Spending hundreds of hours practicing in probate and juvenile court in Athens County, I have witnessed first-hand the unique opportunity the probate and juvenile judge has in making a substantive difference in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. My personal and professional experience will inform the decision making in the discharge of my duties as judge in a very meaningful way. Having this unique history allows me to be of great benefit to others. If I ignored this chance to serve the larger community, I feel that I would be disobeying my conscience. I never imagined when I first started my career that I would have this opportunity, but as I now find myself in this situation, I feel compelled to answer this call of service.
Age 34
Residence The Plains
Campaign Email Address saundersforjudge@gmail.com
Social media https://www.facebook.com/saundersforjudge/
Current Job Assistant Athens County Prosecuting Attorney
Education Graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan Law School
Experience Attorney with Burkett and Sanderson, Attorney with Mollica, Gall, Sloan & Sillery, Assistant Athens County Prosecuting Attorney since 2015.
Family Married to my wife, Meg, and we have two children together.
Affiliations Past Secretary/Treasurer, Vice-President, and President of the Athens County Bar Association; Ohio State Bar Association Member; Secretary of Ohio Brew Week Board; Law Library Board Member.
Endorsements Athens County Democratic Party; Trimble, Dover, York Democrat Club; AFSCME Ohio Council 8/ Retiree Chapter 1184; Southeastern Ohio AFL-CIO CLC; Ohio Association of Public School Employees – Southeastern District; Ohio Young Democrats
I was a judicial extern for the Honorable Gregory L. Frost, United States District Court Judge for the Southern District of Ohio.
My legal background is substantially more diverse than the other candidate. My background allows me to handle unique situations. Prior to joining the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, I represented indigent criminal defendants at a criminal defense firm. I was able to represent individuals accused of a multitude of crimes from murder to traffic violations. This was a very valuable experience as I was in court on a daily basis totaling hundreds of cases in my tenure. In addition to representing adults, my practice focused on juvenile court matters (juvenile delinquency and abuse, neglect and dependency cases). I also was a certified guardian ad litem for abuse, neglect and dependency cases.

I continued my practice at Mollica, Gall, Sloan & Sillery where I practiced with some of the best and most respected attorneys that Athens County had to offer. I not only continued to handle juvenile court delinquency matters, but also handled several child custody and child support matters in juvenile court. I expanded my representation of criminal defendants, but also handled probate matters where I was able to provide families with estate planning as well has handle complex litigation in probate court.

I am currently an Assistant Prosecutor with Athens County where I have many job responsibilities. I am in charge of the grand jury division as I prepare a majority of criminal cases that are presented to the grand jury. I am also in charge of our civil division where I provide representation and advice to the county office holders as well as the fourteen townships. Lastly, I have a criminal caseload where I have handled thousands of criminal cases. This is where my passion to help juveniles out started as I am assigned the child abuse cases in the office. The protection of our youth and elderly mean the world to me and it is an honor to give these children a voice against the abuse that they may face.
I am seeking to become the Athens County Juvenile/Probate Judge because I feel like I am in the best position to make an impact for our community. It takes a special person to hold this job, and I am that person.

In juvenile delinquency matters, juvenile offenders must be held accountable, but you must be able to relate to them, to show them compassion, and to provide them an avenue to succeed. The role of juvenile court is to rehabilitate the offender; I will find ways to make sure that happens. When talking about experience for the job, I have the actual experience in this area of law. I have represented hundreds of criminal defendants, including juveniles, but also have prosecuted thousands of cases. I am the only candidate that can make that statement.

I will seek to expand on the foundation that the Honorable Judge Robert Stewart has built in Juvenile/Probate Court. I will work closely with the local schools to expand the line of communication. My goal is to be proactive with the truancy issues facing our community and to significantly lessen the number of juveniles that are considered to be truant. I will also focus on the mental health of the juveniles involved with the court system. In my vast professional experience, I have witnessed firsthand the lack of structure these juveniles have in their lives. Essentially, a lot of these juvenile offenders are “graduating” to adult felony court. I personally have seen the deterioration before my eyes. I will work to implement a mental health counselor or mental health probation officer in the Court to help break this mold and stop juveniles from reoffending. I want them to succeed and will provide them avenues to do so.

For probate matters, I will make sure the docket is run efficiently and timely. I will waste no time in issuing decisions as it is important to provide closure to these families.

I am a true public servant at heart. This position will allow me to continue that. I have spent a significant part of my career helping and protecting those in need. I will be firm, fair and passionate to all litigants. I believe I am the best person for this job, and I hope the voters of Athens County chose me to be the next Athens County Juvenile/Probate Judge on November 3, 2020.