LIMA — The race to fill an opening on the 3rd District Court of Appeals has two candidates who are not lacking in experience.
Both have a lot of it.
William Zimmerman is the sitting judge in Shelby County Juvenile and Probate courts. Randall Basinger is the sitting judge in Putnam County Common Pleas Court.
They are seeking to replace Judge Richard Rogers, who cannot run again because of the age limit of 70.
While Basinger has been on the bench a lot longer than Zimmerman — since 1987 against Zimmerman’s 2009 — both are nearly the same age with Zimmerman at 63 and Basinger at 64.
Both began in the 1970s as attorneys. Basinger in 1977 and Zimmerman two years later. Basinger is a former prosecutor and clerked for a judge to get his start. Zimmerman had a private practice handling numerous types of cases before he became judge.
Both men even have similar reasons for seeking the job.
“I enjoy the intellectual part of the job,” Zimmerman said.
In the 1990s, Basinger sat in on appellate court hearings for the 8th and 11 Districts as a visiting judge and enjoyed the work, he said.
Zimmerman is a Republican and believes in decisions based on a strict interpretation of the law.
“I support the Constitution of the United States and I don’t believe in judicial activism,” Zimmerman said.
Basinger, a Democrat, was asked about his philosophy, particularly as it relates to being able to set aside personal feelings and rule based on the law. He seemed to avoid the question until it was asked again and said his personal feelings on any hot political issue has never come up in court. He said he can be fair and set aside his personal feelings on issues.
“We all have ideas and beliefs. I don’t think any of us can say we don’t have beliefs on any of those issues,” he said.
Zimmerman spent $30,000 in the primary and expects to spend that much for the general election. He has raised money through donations.
Basinger has taken a different path and hasn’t sought donations. He’s had a tough year with his wife of 40 years dying of cancer, which took him away from campaigning. He is relying more on a long career and name recognition, especially in the two big counties, Allen and Hancock, that border Putnam County.
“It has been an extremely difficult year because of my wife dying,” he said. “It has not been the race that I planned but I decided to remain on the ballot.”
Zimmerman knows Basinger may have a name recognition advantage so he’s spending most of his time in Allen and Hancock counties than any of the other 17 counties in the district.
Reach Greg Sowinski at 567-242-0464 or on Twitter @Lima_Sowinski.