BELLAIRE -- On Friday, in front of friends and supporters, attorney Kevin Flanagan announced his candidacy for the next Belmont County Court Judge for the Western Division Court.
Standing in front of the signature fountain at Bellaire Park, designed by his grandfather when he was Bellaire's service director, Flanagan told the gathering that he would continue to serve the community in the same manner that he has done as acting judge since 2001. Flanagan noted that his prior experience as an acting judge will prove invaluable if he is elected to fill the position being vacated by the Honorable Judge Harry White.
Flanagan said that his experience serving as judge in the Belmont County court system for the Western, Northern and Eastern divisions makes him the only candidate with judicial experience. Furthermore, his role as acting judge required him to attend judicial educational programs conducted by the Ohio Supreme Court. "My education and training over the past several years will allow me to provide the same level of service Belmont County has always enjoyed from its judges."
Flanagan was first appointed as an acting judge in July 2001 for the Honorable Judge D. William Davis.
"I remember receiving a call from Judge Davis's clerk, Charlene Baker, asking if I would serve as the Eastern Court's acting judge. It was truly an honor to be given such an opportunity and to know that I was trusted to serve my community as one of its judges." Flanagan added that he found it to be a new challenge but one that he took very seriously. "Now after a decade of serving as an acting judge, I still treat each case like it is my first case. The people that come before the court need to know that regardless of what side of the aisle they are on, their voice will be heard."
In addition to his judicial experience, Flanagan credited his service as an attorney with helping to build a solid foundation for serving as a county court judge. "During law school, I clerked at the Belmont County Prosecutor's Office and was offered the position of an assistant prosecutor after graduation. Under Prosecutor Frank Pierce and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Bob Quirk, I honed my trial skills and I developed a desire to be a litigator."
While at the prosecutor's office, Flanagan prosecuted all types of cases from misdemeanors to homicide. Flanagan was named Assistant Prosecutor of the Year by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association. Of the prestigious award, he added "to be recognized for my efforts is one of the highlights of my legal career. That award symbolized the hard work and dedication of our office as well as the police officers we closely worked with. I was fortunate to develop lasting relationships with members of law enforcement and the community." Even now, Flanagan still continues to work as a special prosecutor, when appointed, and in that capacity has prosecuted homicide, robbery and other very serious offenses.
Also, Flanagan served the law enforcement community as an instructor and guest lecturer at Mid-Ohio Police Officers Training Academy under the command of Pat Swallie and has worked as an adjunct faculty member at Belmont College. "I am very proud to have worked with members of law enforcement as well as faculty in helping to develop a new generation of young men and women who protect our community. Our students, both at the academy and the college, now work in local law enforcement, highway patrol and other various state and federal agencies. I am proud of the work we did that now benefits our communities."
Flanagan was quick to point out that his experience as a civil attorney will help as a judge. "Many people do not realize that our county courts handle a high volume of civil cases in addition to their criminal case load. The judges in our county courts are called upon, daily, to resolve small claims matters, civil disputes and landlord tenant issues. As an attorney and acting judge, I am constantly involved in civil litigation matters which deserve prompt resolution." Flanagan credits his current employment at Gold, Khourey & Turak, L. C. and previous employment at Cassidy, Myers, Cogan & Voegelin with providing the tools and experience necessary to resolve civil disputes.
While serving as the Eastern Division County Court acting judge, Flanagan also serves as acting judge on behalf of the Honorable Judge Frank Fregiato in Northern Division County Court and the Honorable Judge John Vavra in the Eastern Division County Court. "Being the only person to serve as acting judge for Belmont County's three county courts has given me unparallel experience which will be invaluable if I'm elected to the Western Division County Court in a permanent capacity. I am truly honored and very thankful for the faith and confidence shown to me in allowing me to appear as their acting judge." Flanagan also added that serving as acting judge in all the county courts in Belmont County has provided a great working relationship with the court clerks, Rosalie Ralston and Donna Cottage. "The clerks and their staff have helped me transition into the role of acting judge," said Flanagan.
Flanagan is proud to be a lifelong resident of Belmont County. As the son of Jack and Betty Flanagan of Bellaire, he spoke of learning a work ethic taught to him by his father, a retired steel worker from Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, and his mother, a beautician and homemaker. Flanagan is a graduate of St. John Central High School and is a member of St. John Catholic Church.
In closing, he thanked his supporters and vowed to bring the same work ethic and sense of fairness to the position of county court judge as he has exhibited while serving as an acting judge, former prosecutor and attorney in Belmont County.