Carter, Goettemoeller vie for Municipal Court judge position

By Kyle Shaner -

Gary J. Carter, left, and Duane A. Goettemoeller are vying for the position of Sidney Municipal Court judge in the Nov. 5 general election.

SIDNEY – The incumbent and the Shelby County Common Pleas Court magistrate are running for the position of Sidney Municipal Court judge in the Nov. 5 general election.

Duane A. Goettemoeller, of Anna, is the current Sidney Municipal Court judge. Gary J. Carter, of Fort Loramie, is the Shelby County Common Pleas Court magistrate.

Carter holds degrees from the Wright State University College of Education and University of Dayton School of Law.

He has been married to Pam (Westerheide) Carter for 30 years, and they have two adult sons, Matt and Luke.

Carter has served as the Shelby County Common Pleas Court magistrate since 1991. His first experience running for public office was during the Republican primary election in May.

Goettemoeller attended the University of Salzburg in Austria in 1975 for German studies and earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from St Joseph’s College in 1976. He attended Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1976 to study theological studies and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati in 1982.

He is married to his wife, Melody, a trauma clinical nurse specialist for 35 years. They have three children. Their son, Drew, an Ohio State University graduate, lives and works in Cleveland and recently married his wife, Michelle, a family nurse practitioner. Their daughter Megan is a graduate of Wright State University and is a social worker for Catholic Social Services. Their youngest, Anne Marie, is pursuing her doctorate in neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta.

Goettemoeller was a clerk during law school from 1980-82 in the United States Attorney’s Office, appointed by James Cissell, who later was a Republican Common Pleas Judge for Hamilton County until 2015. He was an assistant public defender from 1983-85, appointed by William Zimmerman (Republican), a former Probate judge for Shelby County who now sits as Third District Court of Appeal judge.

After serving as assistant city prosecutor in Sidney from 1985-89, Goettemoeller was assistant county prosecutor from 1985-2010. He was appointed first by Michael Boller (Republican), then James F. Stevenson, now Shelby County Common Pleas Court judge (Republican), and finally by Ralph Bauer (Republican).

Former Gov. Ted Strickland (Democrat) appointed Goettemoeller as Sidney Municipal Court judge, serving one day, thereafter. He was judge under former Gov. John Kasich (Republican) until elected judge in 2011. He was re-elected as judge in 2013.

Each candidate was asked the same questions about his qualifications and why he is running for Sidney Municipal Court judge. The following is the questions and their answers with responses alternating on each question.

Why do you think you are qualified to be the Sidney Municipal Court judge?

Carter: I have been Magistrate of the Shelby County Common Pleas Court for over 28 years, hearing thousands of cases, for four different judges. Before that, I was an Assistant County Prosecutor for Darke County, handling misdemeanor cases in Municipal Court. I also prosecuted evictions as Staff Attorney for the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority and defended evictions as Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Office serving Shelby County. I have a proven record of protecting women, children, and senior citizens. My collaboration over the years with agencies such as the Domestic Violence Prevention Coalition, New Choices, Catholic Social Services, and the Area Agency on Aging, gives me a unique perspective that will allow me to bring fresh new ideas and positive change to the people of Shelby County.

Goettemoeller: Citizens know exactly what they are getting Common Sense, Consistency and the rule of law with Compassion. I am a good Judge and voters know it.

Without bias or prejudice, political or otherwise, for 65,000 cases, I and my team have re-formed this Court:

Increased receipts by $500,000.00 per year, using online payments.

Revised Mental Health and Probation services.

Added programs like Medically Assisted Treatment , Thinking 4 Change, and Whole Health Action Management.

Updated Court surveillance/hearing arraignments to minimize security threats.

Reduced jail days before trial by almost half.

Reduced the expense of this Court to Shelby County by 10%.

I expect to serve with the same integrity, honesty, and common sense for the next 65,000 cases.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the court system?

Goettemoeller: Always keeping the Court as a safe space for people to both listen and be heard. People are uncertain, afraid, and often they are at a low point in their lives, as a result of violence, or threat of violence. People need to feel that they can speak the truth; that someone listens and truly cares for what they have to say.

What I hear moves me often, but emotions are not a good basis for judgment. Common sense along with consistency of decisions allows everyone to have realistic expectations that the truth will out.

Carter: Drug addiction and substance abuse is an underlying cause of a lot of criminal behavior. The cycle of repeat offenders will not be broken, until we begin to address the underlying causes. Some offenders will need close supervision while on community control sanctions, or “probation”. However, the current practice of putting everyone on “probation”, is costly and unnecessary for first time offenders who have no drug or alcohol problem and are not likely to re-offend. Also, evictions are taking months to get through the court system. These cases will be handled more quickly and efficiently, under my leadership.

What are your goals for office if you are elected?

Carter: My primary goal is to be a fair and impartial judge, who runs a smooth and efficient court. Everyone who comes into my court will be treated with courtesy and respect, and cases will be handled in a consistent and professional manner. Specific goals include finding creative ways to reduce the drug abuse problem in Shelby County. Another goal is to reduce the number of repeat offenders and keep them from moving up to more serious crimes. Lastly, I will draw attention to the problem of distracted driving, in order to reduce the number of accidents caused by it.

Goettemoeller: Get people back to work or at least step them down from jail to the Star house.

Provide better treatment, without increased taxpayer cost, to the mentally ill and those who are drug and alcohol addicted.

Update the information systems to track information from arrest through trial.

Continue to make sure working people are heard, while reducing the time they must spend in Court.

Promote better solutions for those who DO follow the law to clear their records, so that one mistake does not follow them for the rest of their lives.

How should community control sanctions and prison sentences be utilized in cases involving drug users?

Goettemoeller: Sentencing standards are appropriate as it gives me the flexibility to use my team members to assist and monitor the offenders in the community. We assess whether drug offenders are able to do what is necessary to change their lifestyle by treatment.

The Court develops individualized caseplans to meet the offender’s needs and referrals that encourage success. Jail time awaits someone who does not complete their plan. We had a 70% successful completion rate last year, misdemeanor criminal complaints are down over a third from their high and the State has awarded this Court over $1,900,000.00 to keep developing these plans.

Carter: Community control sanctions is more commonly known as “probation”. Incarceration is the “stick” that courts use to get the attention of drug abusers. The “carrot” is an intensive probation program with treatment and strict requirements that must be met, so that the drug abuser can not only avoid jail or prison, but also get clean, get a job, and get their life back. I will use the STAR house as a tool to help drug abusers turn their lives around.

Are Ohio’s mandatory sentencing standards appropriate or too restrictive?

Carter: Ohio’s mandatory sentencing standards are the result of laws passed by our state legislature. The courts do not have the ability to change these laws, but instead, must interpret and enforce them. The advantage of mandatory sentencing standards is that they give clear direction to the Court, which provides consistency. The disadvantage is that they can “tie the Court’s hands” in cases where more discretion could be useful. On the whole, most of Ohio’s mandatory sentencing standards are well-reasoned and appropriate.

Goettemoeller: I have not found those sentencing standards restrictive. I think that I as a Judge should have the flexibility to sentence a Defendant to proper punishment, but in such a way that we encourage Defendants not to do so again. That is and should be the goal of a sentence for a crime.

The State of Ohio has seen fit to award what we are doing with money, because of the outcomes we are getting. This Court works within the law and makes it work for all, victims and defendants.

Gary J. Carter, left, and Duane A. Goettemoeller are vying for the position of Sidney Municipal Court judge in the Nov. 5 general election. J. Carter, left, and Duane A. Goettemoeller are vying for the position of Sidney Municipal Court judge in the Nov. 5 general election.

By Kyle Shaner

Reach the writer at or 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at or 937-538-4824.