Columbiana County is ringing in the New Year by making strides in local government. Megan Bickerton was sworn in Friday as the first female common pleas judge.

Bickerton upset incumbent Judge Ashley Pike last May to win the Republican nomination.

A big crowd turned out to watch. With her right hand raised, swearing an oath, Bickerton made her mark in Columbiana County history.

The East Liverpool native said she won’t take her role as the first female common pleas judge lightly.

“I never dreamed that in 2018, that there would not be a female who has sat on this bench yet and I’m honored to be the first one to.”

The county was founded in 1803. Now it has its first female common pleas judge after 215 years.

“I hope there will be many more after me,” Bickerton said.

A woman behind the gavel is something retired Judge David Tobin thinks is a growing trend.

“I remember when I was in law school back in 1975. There were five women in our class. Now I think women are equal partners in the law,” he said.

Bickerton had been working as the assistant county prosecutor. She also served as assistant law director in East Liverpool and village solicitor in Lisbon.

She hopes to not only bring a female perspective to cases but being just 37 years old, to also bring a fresh outlook on issues, such as the drug problem.

“We’re looking at other avenues, such as implementing a drug court here and other ways to address the issue since the legislation for sentencing is kind of tying our hands into what we can do,” Bickerton said.

She will officially start on January 1.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said Bickerton beat non-party candidate Heaven Guest in November. Guest did not qualify to appear on the ballot. We regret the error.