Former Solon Councilman and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Richard A. Bell ousted the incumbent in a close race during the general election on Tuesday to earn a seat on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.
Mr. Bell, 57, earned the top votes Tuesday over Judge Wanda C. Jones for the non-partisan seat. Both candidates reside in the city of Solon.
According to unofficial results from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Mr. Bell received 234,005 votes or 53.25 percent with Judge Jones receiving 205,423 or 46.75 percent of the vote.
Mr. Bell, who served as chief of the Special Investigations Unit at the county, said following the election that he was “honored and overwhelmed” by the support.
“I look forward to taking office and working with the court and the community to implement the reforms we discussed on the campaign trail.
“I am grateful to my family and everyone for their support,” Mr. Bell added.
He said his initial goals on the bench involve finding a way to handle justice swiftly for defendants and victims during this COVID-19 period.
“The court is under some restrictions, and we want to make sure justice is not delayed,” Mr. Bell said.
Judge Jones, 48, who was appointed temporarily to the bench by former Gov. John Kasich to fill the spot of Michael P. Donnelly who was elected to the Ohio Supreme Court in 2018, said she first wanted to thank those voters, even those outside of the county, for their support.
“I just tried to educate voters,” she said. “I do want to thank everyone. It was an experience the last 18 months connecting with people and being at the polls connecting with voters.
“I wouldn’t trade the experience of being a judge for anything,” she said.
Judge Jones, who had a private law practice in Solon prior to serving the court, said she is unsure of her next step.
“I haven’t had time to process,” she said Wednesday. “We are all taking a mental health day [today].”
Mr. Bell, who has spent every day over the past month at the board of elections speaking directly to the voters, said he was grateful for that personal interaction.
“I want to thank everyone for their determination,” he said. “People made sure their vote was counted in this historic election.”