Section: News

Chief justice candidate Jennifer Brunner visits Knox County

With Election Day fast approaching, nominees on the ballot are doing their best to encourage voter turnout and strengthen their political positions. In Ohio, Justice Jennifer Brunner, who is running for chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, has begun a statewide tour to encourage voter turnout. This tour has been termed the “Ohio Justice Tour,” with Brunner visiting almost seventy counties within Ohio, including Knox County, to discuss her platform. 

Brunner, who is running as a Democrat, has been a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court since 2020. She is now running for the position of chief justice against Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy. 

Brunner’s Ohio Justice Tour began on Oct. 24, two weeks before Election Day, with Brunner visiting multiple counties per day. She visited Mount Vernon on Oct. 29 at a backyard gathering hosted by Associate Director of Advancement Communications Luisa Gantt and her family. Around 30 people attended the event and had the opportunity to ask questions. Brunner discussed the goals she intends to implement once she is in office.  In particular, she intends to examine the influence of systemic racism within the criminal justice system. This will include the implementation of a criminal sentencing database, a comprehensive list of felony conviction data, which will be publically available and could be used to identify any inequitable patterns that occur as a result of racist bias and encourage uniform sentencing. 

Furthermore, Brunner emphasized the importance of rural communities, particularly when it comes to supporting pandemic recovery efforts. As Brunner is an Ohio native from Springfield, her platform has placed great importance on maintaining current rural culture while also advocating for environmental conservation and combating the opioid crisis. 

Even with a boost from her Ohio Justice Tour, Brunner still faces a tough race. The Ohio Supreme Court has traditionally had a strong Republican leaning, with four of the seven seats currently occupied by Republicans. As Ohio voters have leaned Republican for the past two presidential elections, Democrats running for the Ohio Supreme Court this midterm election face additional pressure. 

Brunner plans to continue visiting various counties in the state of Ohio up until Election Day on Nov. 8, when Ohio residents will have the opportunity to vote for the next chief justice. Whether Brunner’s statewide tour will affect voter turnout remains to be seen.

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