Following the recommendation by the Athens County Republican Central Committee, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday his appointment of Kenneth E. Ryan to the vacant judge’s seat in the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, Probate and Juvenile Division.
Ryan will assume the office on Oct. 13 and will fill the position until the term expires in February 2021.
“I am very humbled and honored by the experience,” Ryan said. “I was so fortunate to have many years of practicing Judge Stewart’s courtroom. He was in many ways, a de facto mentor to me.”
Ryan is currently on the November ballot, vying for the position with candidate Zachary L. Saunders (D). The two faced off in a virtual debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Athens County on Sept. 15.
“Though this comes in the midst of a campaign, certainly my duty on the bench will come first and foremost,” Ryan aid.
The Judge position was left vacant by the death of Judge Robert Stewart, 70, on Sept. 12. He was in his 18th and final year as Athens County Probate Juvenile Judge.
Following Stewart’s death, the Republican Central Committee met virtually on Sept. 24 to unanimously vote for recommending that DeWine appoint Ryan to fill the position. Following the death or retirement of a judge, the Governor or Ohio Supreme Court has the right to appoint a judge to fill the position.
Though Ryan was appointed to serve out the remainder of Stewart’s term, he will still be required to continue running for election for the full term, commencing Feb. 9, 2021.
Ryan currently is the owner of Ryan Law Office Co. L.P.A. in Athens. He has represented over 115 children in court and was a music teacher for 12 years at Trimble Local Schools prior to his law career.
Additionally, Ryan has been appointed in the probate court to represent over 600 patients at Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare.
Ryan holds a law degree from the University of Dayton School of Law, a master’s degree from Ohio University and an undergraduate degree from Ohio Wesleyan University.
He currently serves on the board for Rising Suns Charitable Pharmacy, and previously was a board member for the Athens County Board of Elections, The Athens Foundation and council member for the Village of Coolville.
“I am grateful for your support and humbled by the opportunity to be the next Probate and Juvenile Judge of Athens County,” Ryan told the Republican Central Committee at the time of his nomination.