CLEVELAND (WJW) — A longtime Cuyahoga County judge may be off the bench following Tuesday’s election. But the poll results were razor-thin, and may be subject to an automatic recount.

Sixteen-year Common Pleas Judge Joan Synenberg was defeated Tuesday by challenger Brian Mooney, according to unofficial election results in Cuyahoga County. Mooney earned 50.12% of the vote (152,395 votes) and Synenberg earned 49.88% of the vote (151,663).

But since the margin was within a half-percent, the results may qualify for an automatic recount under state election rules. But first, the votes have to be certified by an official canvass, which is due by Nov. 29. If the margin is still within 0.5%, a recount will happen automatically.

“When the additional vote-by-mail ballots and the provisional ballots are added to the count they will probably break the tie and change the close races,” Mike West of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

Judge Synenberg, 64, of Bratenahl, has been a county judge for 16 years and before that, served as Cleveland Municipal Court judge for two years and worked as a trial attorney in the county for 16 years, according to her profile on Ohio’s JudicialVotesCount website. Between 2006 and 2021, she presided over nearly 6,000 criminal cases and more than 10,000 civil cases in Cuyahoga County.

She received “excellent” or “good” ratings from six area bar associations that operate the judicial ballot website

Synenberg earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University and a Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

“Public service is a passion. I wish to continue the work I have begun,” she said in a candidate questionnaire on the state’s judicial voting website. “In addition to my regular docket as a judge, I have been the Presiding Judge for over 7 years in the first Supreme Court certified dual diagnosis Recovery Court. This court helps clients who are charged in criminal cases(s) and suffer from substance abuse disorder and trauma. This court has successfully graduated over 100 clients who are now living a sober life.”

Mooney represents Ward 11 on Cleveland City Council, which he joined in 2020, according to the city council website. That includes the Edgewater, Cudell, West Boulevard, Jefferson and Bellaire-Puritas neighborhoods. During his time on council, the ward gained more than 600 jobs after the arrival of an Amazon distribution center and University Tees.

Two bar associations listed Mooney as “not recommended” on He reportedly “refused to participate” with four other associations’ rankings.

He did not provide a biography for the bar associations’ website or the state judicial ballot website.