Democrats scored one historic victory on Election Day: Their candidate for the Ohio Supreme Court became the first African American woman to win election as a justice.
Melody Stewart from Cleveland defeated incumbent Mary DeGenaro from the Youngstown area, who was appointed to the position earlier this year by Gov. John Kasich. DeGenaro replaced former Justice Bill O’Neill, who before resigning was the only Democrat on the court.
Stewart, who has served as a judge on the Eighth District Court of Appeals, knew it would be an uphill battle. She credited her victory to hard work.
“I knew that our history as a party wasn’t good with getting seats on the Ohio Supreme Court,” Stewart said.” I knew it would be additionally difficult for being a woman of color.”
The Ohio Supreme Court had one African-American woman serve on the bench before: Yvette McGee Brown, who was appointed by Gov. Ted Strickland to fill a vacant seat in 2010. But the Democrat served less than two years on the court, losing in the 2012 election to Republican Sharon L. Kennedy.
Democrat Michael Donnelly also won a spot on the Ohio Supreme Court this year. He’ll replace Terrence O’Donnell, who is stepping down due to age limits.
Currently, all seven Supreme Court seats belong to Republicans.