Stow -- At least two challengers may run against incumbent Judge Kim Hoover (Cuyahoga Falls) for his seat in Stow Municipal Court.

According to the Summit County Board of Elections, Linda Malek (D-Cuyahoga Falls) and Kandi O'Connor (R-Hudson) filed by the Feb. 6 deadline to run for the judge's seat, which carries a six-year term.

The deadline for independents to file is May 6; any independent candidate whose petitions are certified would appear on the November ballot.

The next term for the judge's seat begins Jan. 1, 2014.

Board of elections director Joseph Masich verified that Hoover filed petitions to run as a non-partisan candidate in the race, but said he's unsure whether Hoover's approach is legitimate.

A recently passed state law was enacted since Hoover's last election requiring the judge's race to have partisan primaries and non-partisan elections.

Although Hoover said he's a Republican, he's run non-partisan in his last three elections -- his first race was in 1994 -- and intends to take the same approach in the coming election.

"I do not want to politicize a judicial campaign, so I refused to file as a [Republican], though I am," he said.

"The new idea to have partisan primaries gives power to party bosses in trying to limit access to the ballot to party regulars," Hoover suggested. "I resist that change and want to remain non-partisan so the electorate doesn't feel that party matters in a courtroom."

Masich said the elections board will ultimately determine whether to approve the various individuals' bids for the race at its next meeting Feb. 15.

"Whomever gets authorized to appear on the ballot is who we put on the ballot," Masich said.

Masich explained there will be no primary election because the primaries would be uncontested, and none of the three candidate hopefuls' names will appear on the spring's May ballot -- they would all simply move on to the non-partisan general election in November.


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