Formerly suspended Seneca Co. judge seeks to reclaim seat as primaries near

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 8:38 PM EDT
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FOSTORIA, Ohio (WTVG) - A former Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal Court judge is back after being removed by the Ohio Supreme Court. Now, he’s running to reclaim his seat from his governor-appointed replacement.

Mark Repp, a judge of 19 years, was removed from his position as a Tiffin-Fostoria Municipal judge in November 2021. The Ohio Supreme Court suspended Repp for one year without pay for sending a courtroom spectator to jail even though she wasn’t on trial and wasn’t causing a disruption.

“I had someone come into court. I believed that she was under the influence, high. I wanted to drug test her,” said Repp. “I recognize that was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that.”

The following is the exchange of words between Repp and the woman, Alexzandria Orta:

Orta: “I don’t see how I’m in trouble.”

Judge Repp: “Well, you come into my courtroom, I think you’re high, you’re in trouble.”

Orta: “Ok, but I’m not though.”

Judge Repp: “Well, then take a test. You want to take a test or no?”

Orta: “No.”

Judge Repp: “We’re going to hold you in contempt and commit you for 10 days.”

In December of last year, Governor Mike DeWine appointed former Seneca and Crawford County Prosecutor Rhonda Best to the position. Since she took over the seat, Best has been working on a re-entry program for those coming out of jail or prison.

“I’m working on a means to make those folks get into a healthy space, so where they are able to take advantage of education and vocation programs and then later on employment,” said Best.”

Both Repp and Best want to expand Pivot, a multi-jurisdictional addiction recovery program that Repp helped create.

“The whole idea behind Pivot was that we could prevent people with addiction issues who are misdemeanants - have misdemeanors - from becoming felons,” said Repp.

The key difference between the two candidates is Repp wants to combine the county and municipal court probation departments while Best wants to keep them separate, saying she’ll increase communication between the departments through a federal grant she’s already applied for.

Voters will decide between Best and Repp in the Republican Primary on May 2. Whoever wins will take on Democrat Jim Fruth in November.

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