XENIA — Greene County Domestic Relations Court Judge Steven Hurley faces a challenge from Mark Donatelli in the May 6 Republican primary election.
Hurley, 62, is seeking a third term on the bench while Donatelli is seeking his first term as an elected judge.
“I’m not ready to quit,” Hurley said. “I think I’ve done the job that I was elected to do. It’s always satisfying to me when people stop me in a grocery store and say ‘you did a good job with my divorce.’ “
Prior to his election he was a Magistrate in the Greene County Domestic Relations Court for more than 15 years. Hurley is a past president of the Greene County Bar Association and served two terms as president of the Ohio Association of Magistrates during 1998 and 1999. In 2010 he was elected by Domestic Relations Court judges to serve as the president of the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges.
Hurley currently serves on the Ohio Judicial Conference Family Law and Procedure Committee, the Ohio Judicial Conference Magistrate Committee, and is a member of the National Council Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association. Judge Hurley is a frequent presenter of continuing legal education programs for the Greene County Bar Association and for the Ohio Judicial College.
“I think I’ve done a fine job,” Hurley said.
Donatelli, 58, said it’s a difficult decision to run against another Republican, but has three main reasons for doing so.
“The decisions are not timely,” Donatelli said. “The delay in responding in to the needs of people in emotional crisis just exacerbates the problem, people in the middle of a divorce need certainty and they need to know the outcome of their case as quickly as possible. It’s just critical especially where kids involved.”
Donatelli also said a “pretty significant” number of the decisions made by the Domestic Relations Court are reversed by an appellate court and he said the fact that Hurley has announced his plans to officially retire at the end of the year, begin collecting retirement and still serve as a judge if re-elected is “wrong.”
Hurley sees nothing wrong with retiring and running for that position again, since it’s allowed under Ohio law.
“Purely an economic decision,” Hurley said, “to receive the pension that I have worked over 30 years for before I am 69 years old.” He said if he didn’t retire now, he wouldn’t be able to retire and collect his retirement until he was nearly 69. Hurley also said he hasn’t been overturned “any more than anyone else.”
Donatelli was previously an acting judge for Xenia Municipal Court, National Business Institute instructor, court magistrate in Greene County Domestic Relations Court, City of Xenia law director and prosecutor and an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton and Antioch College.
Donatelli was also part of team which formed the Greene County Domestic Violence Shelter in 1985-86, secured a grant from State of Ohio to create a victim advocate position for Xenia in 1994, a member of the Greene County Board of Building Appeals and the Greene County Public Defender Board and also served as a volunteer attorney for Volunteer Lawyers Project, Inc., of Dayton - providing pro bono divorce services to disadvantaged Greene County clients.
The winner will move on to the general election in November. That winner will serve a six-year term.