Kevin Kelley Heading to Victory Over Wanda Jones in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Race

Kelley announced his candidacy just weeks after losing his race for Cleveland mayor

click to enlarge Councilmen Kevin Conwell, Kevin Kelley and Tony Brancatelli mugging in front of an anti-Kelley truck outside City Hall in 2016. - Sam Allard/Scene
Sam Allard/Scene
Councilmen Kevin Conwell, Kevin Kelley and Tony Brancatelli mugging in front of an anti-Kelley truck outside City Hall in 2016.

Kevin Kelley looks to finally have a recent reason to celebrate on election night as his race against Wanda Jones to fill an unexpired seat on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court started tight but became less so as the night went on.

With 94% of the vote counted at 11:45 p.m., Kelley led 164,778 votes to 129,954.

The former Cleveland city councilmen of 16 years,  eight of which were spent as council president, sought the seat as a return to public service after running for mayor in 2021 and losing in landslide fashion to Justin Bibb.

It was just two months after that election loss and the week that Bibb took the reins at City Hall that Kelley, who remained "of counsel" at the law firm of Porter-Wright throughout his terms as councilman, announced his intention to run for judge.

Jones was appointed to the bench in December 2021 to fill the seat vacated by the death of Judge Joseph D. Russo. She was also twice previously appointed to the bench, both times failing to win election.

The Republican earned the endorsement of various bar associations and the editorial board of Cleveland.com/The Plain Dealer, which encouraged voters to punch the ballot based on "her independence and problem-solving instincts, combined with a well-honed knowledge of the law and a staunch commitment to criminal justice reform."
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