Juvenile Court judge race has 2 GOP candidates

Dan Phillips has been endorsed by the county Republican Party.

The contest between two assistant prosecutors for the Butler County Juvenile Court is likely already over since Jim Monk says he’s not campaigning after the county GOP overwhelming endorsed Dan Phillips.

Both men were seeking the Republican nomination for Juvenile Court judge now that Judge Kathleen Romans has to retire due to her age, but Monk told the Journal-News he has effectively bowed out.

“They had the endorsement meeting last month and Dan got like 76% of the vote,” Monk said. “It’s tough to win in this county when you’re against the endorsed candidate and there’s a slate card. So after a couple of days I thought about it and I wasn’t going to spend any more time or money on my campaign.”

His name will still appear on the May 3 ballot, “I know I’m going to vote for myself and so is my wife, other than that it should be a landslide.”

At the county GOP endorsement meeting Phillips received 94 votes to Monk’s 27 and two people didn’t vote either way.

Monk, 62, has been chief of the Juvenile Court Division of the prosecutor’s office for 16 years and also the Area Courts for the past five.

Phillips, 41, worked as an assistant prosecutor in the Juvenile Court and Area Courts before moving to the felony division, “I’ve handled everything from a speeding ticket to aggravated murder.”

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He told the Journal-News he is still campaigning.

“I’m honored to have the support and endorsement of the Butler County Republican Party, our Prosecutor Mike Gmoser, Sheriff (Richard) Jones and many others but I am not taking a victory for granted,” Phillips said. “I am working hard every day to win the election and show the people of Butler County that I am the best candidate.”

The Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over the following case types: delinquent and unruly youth, criminal and traffic offenses, child support, paternity, child abuse and neglect, dependency, custody and visitation.

Phillips, who has spent the majority of his career prosecuting felons, said he believes he can do the most good in the Juvenile Court.

“In Juvenile Court is where I feel I can make the most difference. There’s one quote about Juvenile Court that really resonates with me, that is the purpose of Juvenile Court is not to punish but to save,” Phillips said.

“Whether it’s a juvenile delinquent you’re trying to rehabilitate so they’ll never offend again as an adult, or an abused or neglected child you’re trying to save from a horrible situation, that’s what Juvenile Court’s for and that’s what I’d like to do, protect the kids and prevent them from committing crimes as adults.”

Monk entered the race late saying he wanted to ensure consistency on the court that has had the same judges for many years. Judge Erik Niehaus, son of the late Juvenile Court Judge David Niehaus, took the bench last year, replacing retired Judge Ron Craft who served for 18 years. Romans has been on the bench since 2008.

He said Phillips is a shoe-in to win and when he does he will have no problem working with him.

“I certainly expect him to win and I’m not uncomfortable in any way,” Monk said. “I can’t speak for him but I can’t imagine he’d have a problem with me in the room. We both wanted the same thing, that’s all. He got the endorsement and that’s tough to overcome.”

Gmoser told the Journal-News previously he endorsed Phillips before Monk announced his candidacy, saying “they are both very qualified individuals but I had made my endorsement for Dan early before Jim got into it and thought it would be appropriate to maintain my endorsement.”

There is no Democrat candidate in the primary.

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