July 1, 2016


Joyce Kimbler running to replace husband as common pleas judge

Medina County still may have a Kimbler on the common pleas court bench next year.

Long-time Judge James L. Kimbler, 64, of Seville, announced last month he would not seek re-election this year.

But his wife, Joyce V. Kimbler, is interested in the job.

Joyce Kimbler

Joyce Kimbler

“My years as a trial lawyer have led me to see that the best judges were those with extensive litigation experience,” she said.

“I know when people with legal issues come to see me how frightened they are. And that will help guide my decisions as a judge — to remember that these are not just legal issues, these are people, and that’s what the trial court is all about.”

Kimbler, 59, earned her law degree from the University of Akron and was licensed to practice in 1982. She has worked in Akron as a trial lawyer for Nationwide Insurance for the past 29 years, handling a variety of civil cases — everything from dog bites to commercial tort cases.

She has handled some criminal cases pro bono, but those have all been plea negotiations, she said. None went to trial.

She has appeared five times in the Ohio Supreme Court, 46 times in Ohio appeals courts, and in common pleas courts throughout Ohio, numerous municipal courts and small claims courts.

Kimbler filed with the Medina County Board of Elections on Monday to run in the May 6 Democratic primary. She also has created a campaign website, www.joycekimblerforjudge.com.

Kimbler isn’t a newcomer to politics. In 1998, she ran for the 9th District Court of Appeals, which serves Medina, Wayne, Lorain and Summit counties. She won the Democratic primary but lost in the fall election to Donna Carr.

At least one other candidate is in the race for the common pleas judgeship. Former Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner announced his plans in December and has filed for the Republican primary in May.

Werner has a law practice in Beachwood with a background in municipal and zoning law. He has practiced in both state and federal courts.

He told The Gazette in December that serving as mayor took time away from his law practice. He said he wanted to stay in public service and found the prospect of a full-time judgeship closer to home appealing.

Werner could not be reached for comment Monday but Republican Party head Nancy Abbott said she was confident he could beat Kimbler.

“I think Gary is an extremely strong candidate. He’s very well qualified and has a great deal of experience and will make a great judge,” she said. “I wonder if Joyce could win without the name Kimbler.”

Abbott said she knows of no other Republican interested in running for the seat.

“No one else from the Republican Party has contacted me to say they are interested in that position,” she said.

Medina County Democratic Party leader John Welker doubted any other Democrats would run in the primary.

“She should be our November candidate,” he said. “No one will be filing against her with party endorsement. She is an excellent candidate. She will make an excellent judge.”

Kimbler said she is confident about defeating Werner in November.

“I believe the voters in Medina County will consider the qualifications of the candidates and I believe my qualifications are better suited to this position than Mr. Werner’s,” she said.

The filing deadline for the May primary is Wednesday.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.