Local Candidate Hopes to Make History

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CANTON, Ohio – Nearly 20 years after graduating from Timken Senior High School, Corey Minor Smith is eager to make one of her oldest dreams come true: becoming a judge.

“Actually, my inspiration started in high school,” she said. “I was assigned to the Canton Municipal Court as a student in high school through the summer program.”

Smith, 39, is an attorney for Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority and is running for Canton Municipal Court Judge. She advanced from the primary election on May 7.

If elected, Smith would make Canton history by being the first black female to take this office, according to the Stark County Board of Elections.

“I use my life experiences, my services in the community and my leadership in the community to help encourage youth of any race, any gender, any age,” she said, “because it’s difficult sometimes for youth to see the steps that they can take in order to excel.”

Though she has never served as judge, Smith says she has significant public service experience, including being an assistant prosecutor for the juvenile division of the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, and she’s been a judicial attorney for the Summit County Common Pleas Court.

Before working for SMHA, she was the director of compliance for the City of Canton.

Her opponent on the November ballot, incumbent Judge Richard J. Kubilis, has been in office for 21 years.

“It’s tense at times, and you have highs and lows just like any other job,” he said. “You need to put in the groundwork before you step into this position because it’s pretty demanding.”

Kubilis is one of four judges that serve the court, which handles up to 35,000 cases a year.

Of the challenges the court will face in the future, Kubilis says jail overcrowding is at the top.

“I’m only given 22 jail beds by the Stark County sheriff, and I get a report every day as to how many of those bed that I’m using up,” he said. “So, it’s a constant effort to rotate individuals in and out of those beds who need to stay in the Stark County jail.”

To help remedy the problem, Kubilis says he may opt for alternative penalties for non-violent offenders.

“So a number of years ago, I started where individuals, in lieu of going to jail or doing community service, they bring in food items for both the humane society and Stark County Hunger Task Force,” he said.

Smith agrees that jail overcrowding is an issue, but her biggest goal is to prevent repeat offenders.

“I believe that the specialty court programs can help reduce recidivism and allow those individuals to get those specific skills and training that they need so that they can be productive citizens in our community,” she said.