(WKBN) — Voters in Trumbull County’s upcoming Democratic Primary will see two candidates for common pleas court judge on the ballot.
Democrats Sean O’Brien and Dawn Cantalamessa are both vying for a seat on the bench in the General Division of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to and working for my whole life,” said O’Brien.
“In law school, it was my dream to carry forward and be a judge,” said Cantalamessa.
Both are running to fill the seat currently held by the Honorable Judge Wyatt McKay. McKay has served on the bench for more than 35 years and by law can’t seek re-election because of his age.
Both candidates have experience in the courts.
“I’ve prosecuted some of the most heinous and horrific crimes in the Mahoning Valley, and I want to bring justice to the families of Trumbull County,” said Cantalamessa.
“By being an assistant county prosecutor for 12 years, by being a defense attorney and working on the civil side I think that helps me be more rounded because being a judge is not just one-sided, you have to look at both sides,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien worked as an assistant county prosecutor before serving in the legislature in both the House and Senate. He lost his bid for re-election in 2020.
“I think the people have elected me many times and understand what they’re getting so I think that’s going to help take me over the edge,” said O’Brien.
While Cantalamessa has spent 22 years prosecuting cases. she currently works as an assistant prosecutor in Ashtabula County.
She resigned from her job in Mahoning County after Judge John Durkin upheld a motion to dismiss her from a 2018 murder case.
“Prosecutors and judges disagree all the time, you know that’s why we have a court of appeals but unfortunately in my situation, I can’t appeal what he wrote,” said Cantalamessa.
We asked what sets each candidate apart from their opponent.
“I’ve had like I said over 110 felony jury trials, and I had death penalties where my opponent has not had any death penalty experience and that’s something I think you need,” said Cantalamessa.
“I think my background being a legislator, my background being a community activist with working with foundations I think that rounded experience makes me a good candidate, and I think that’s what’s going to help make me a good judge,” said O’Brien.
The winner will not face a Republican challenger in the November General election.