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First Black Woman Elected To Ohio Supreme Court

Tony Dejak
Associated Press
Judge Melody Stewart speaks at the Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, in Youngstown, Ohio.

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 appointedby 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.

Mitch Felan is a news intern for WKSU. He is a multimedia journalist with experience in print, television, radio and visual journalism. Felan is a junior at Kent State University, working towards a Bachelor's Degree in Multimedia Journalism. During the school year, Felan works for Kent State Student Media in TV2, The Kent Stater, and KentWired. He will be serving as the Digital Director for Kent State University's Student Media Newsroom in the Fall.