Sharon L. Kennedy

Sharon L. Kennedy

Kennedy, 58, has a juris doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, a bachelors degree of social work from the University of Cincinnati. She currently serves a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court.

Describe what is motivating you to seek office:

I am running for re-election to continue my work on and beyond the bench. On the bench, I have honored my commitment to exercising judicial restraint and have applied the law equally, in a fair and impartial manner while providing a timely definitive statement of law in a clear and concise manner. Beyond the bench I will continue my pursuit of compassionate justice beginning with, but not limited to, the Lean Forward initiative which advances substance abuse and mental health treatment of justice-involved veterans and the development of a universal Ohio resource tool. I will also continue educating civic organizations and students about the importance of our tripartite system of government and the role of the judicial branch in that government, the misperceptions of the First Amendment, and how to chase your American Dream. Additionally, I will continue presenting legal education programs on professionalism, civil caselaw update, criminal caselaw update, and division of veteran disability benefits.

Articulate your thoughts on the three issues you deem most important for the position in this election:

The three issues I believe are at the forefront for judges across the state are continuing the implementation of COVID-19 measures to ensure that the courthouse doors are not only open, but that access to justice is real and timely; beginning a pilot project to obtain data about sentencing and racial disparity in sentencing practices; and because of the collateral consequences of pretrial detention and incarceration a continuation of the development of pretrial release and re-entry programs.

If elected what are your goals for your term?

People come into the justice system when all other societal systems have failed them. We turn no one away. And because judges are non-partisan they have the unique ability to bring people together, build partnerships, and create community solutions. Upon re-election I will continue working on the Lean Forward initiative. In addition I want to speak in urban area schools about what it is like to be a lawyer and a judge and inspire young women and minorities to choose the law as a profession, continue writing and presenting legal education programs on important issues like professionalism and cultural consciousness, and work to expand the reach of problem solving — like drug courts — by working to incorporate programs like Bridges Out of Poverty. Because of the collateral consequences of incarceration — whether pretrial detention or an imposed sentence to prison — I will partner with community systems and grow holistic re-entry programs.

Do you have any additional comments or messages to relay to the public?

Too often voters skip over judicial races because the cheat sheet is gone. There are no R’s or D’s behind the candidate’s names. Members of the judiciary serve a vital role in our tripartite system of government.

Judges serve as the protectors of the Constitution and the people’s constitutional rights. The judicial branch is an independent and co-equal branch of government therefore members of the judiciary are as equally important as a legislator or a member of the executive branch. Today there is more readily available information about judicial candidates than ever before. I urge all citizens to inform and educate themselves and vote. Vote all the way down the ticket.

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