MANSFIELD — Richland County Board of Elections member J.C. Elgin announced Tuesday his resignation from the board in order to run for Shelby Municipal Court judge in 2023.

The attorney said keeping his seat on the bipartisan, four-member local elections board would be “incompatible with my duties and impermissible as a (board) member.”

Elgin thanked board and staff members he served with during his tenure, which began in March 2021 when he was selected by the local Democratic Party to replace the late Joe Mudra.

“I won’t give a big speech but this board — and that’s not blowing smoke — is truly the reason that made this decision hard,” Elgin said during Tuesday afternoon’s board meeting.

“I was approached to be on this board right after Joe died and I didn’t know that I really wanted to do it. It turned out to be one of the most fun experiences, even in the rough times, that I’ve had in a long time,” Elgin said.

“I so appreciate the opportunity to be here. As you know, I wouldn’t be doing if I didn’t think I could do good things in Shelby, as well. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here.”

The local elections board has four members — Elgin and fellow Democrat Lydia Reid, along with Republicans Bill Freytag and Megan Whatman. With Elgin’s resignation effective at the end of the year, the Richland County Democratic Party will meet to replace him.

Elections Board Director Matt Finfgeld said the local Democratic party has 15 days after the resignation takes effect to replace Elgin. He said the party’s executive committee will likely meet Jan. 5 to select the new board member.

The board chair, Freytag praised the work done by Elgin.

“We appreciate what you brought to the board. It’s nice having an attorney on board at times,” Freytag said.

“We lean on you pretty hard on some of those things, but I appreciate what you brought. You will be missed and we wish you well in your endeavors in Shelby.”

Elgin graduated from Shelby High School in 2006 and then earned an English degree from The Ohio State University in 2011 and a master’s degree in IT management from Regis University. Elgin managed the IT departments for Norwalk and Crestline school districts before making the decision to attend law school.

Elgin recently opened his primary legal office in Shelby when he bought the historic former Shelby Telephone Co. building at 6 Water St. He earned his law degree in 2016 from Ohio Northern University.

The attorney worked in private practice for a year before joining the Richland County Prosecutor’s Office civil division for three years. He left to begin a private practice in 2020 and has handled a variety of criminal, juvenile and civil cases in northern Ohio during his legal career.

Elgin said he is seeking to become Shelby’s judge, a part-time position, in order to “improve the administration and management of the court.”

He said great things are happening in Shelby and he thinks the court has become disconnected with the community.

“There is an amazing group of invested community members who are all in — working tirelessly to make Shelby the greatest place to live,” Elgin said. “I’ve lived in Shelby 30-plus years, only leaving temporarily to attend college and law school.

“I’ve never seen a time like now. A new downtown, amphitheater, a growing YMCA, new schools and a thriving library. There is nowhere else I want to be. This is where I have chosen to build my business, my career and my family. I am so excited for Shelby’s future,” he said.

However, he said what happens in the Shelby Municipal Court affects the city and the northern part of the county.

“Even voters who never imagine being in front of the judge need to elect the candidate who will focus on the court-and-community connection, support victims, hold offenders accountable, protect the constitutional rights of litigants, and seek justice for the individual and for our community,” Elgin said.

The current judge is Sheree Studer, who won election in 2017 by defeating Gordon Eyster. Studer, who replaced long-time Judge Jon Schaefer, earned 80 percent of the vote in that year’s general election.

Richland Source election coverage is brought to you by The North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC).

City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when...

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