CLEVELAND - While the general election is not for several months, it appears the race for Cuyahoga County prosecutor was decided Tuesday night.
Former Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty won the Democratic nomination over four other candidates with more than 30 percent of the vote. The Republican Party will not have a candidate on the November ballot.
"If we are elected in November, if we are lucky enough to do so, in January, improve the system we have," McGinty said, during his after-election party at The Harp on Cleveland's west side. "It's going to be a more economical process. We're going to follow the example of other jurisdictions across the country. Improve public safety, improve public confidence and improve the economy."
The McGinty campaign spent more than $90,000 and encouraged absentee voting because they expected a low turnout. One member of the campaign said they knew in last weeks of February that McGinty would win.
McGinty was an assistant prosecutor in Cuyahoga County from 1982 to 1992. He studied at Cleveland Marshall College of Law and started as a common pleas judge in 1993, before retiring last year.
"The county prosecutor's office is going to take control, with all the other agencies involved in the decision-making process, on the high level felonies. And when we do so, we will not have problems, accidents and errors like the Anthony Sowell case. No one's going to sift through the system again. We going to identify and focus on the habitual criminals."
McGinty was the original judge assigned to the trial of now-convicted serial killer Sowell. He received the case in December 2009 and removed himself just days later. But in 2010, he took the stand because Sowell's defense claimed he had ex parte conversation with Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold. During that same hearing, McGinty admitted showing Sowell's showed Sowell's court-ordered psychological reports to a Plan Dealer reporter. Other prosecutor hopefuls said McGinty nearly ruined the case against the man who killed 11 women and left their bodies around his Imperial Avenue home.
Current prosecutor Bill Mason has served in the office for more than a decade after being elected to three terms starting in 2000.
"We've got a great prosecutor's office going now. We're going to continue that tradition. We've got great police departments, we've got great agencies and we've going to continue the reform process that we started five years ago."