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Familiar faces vie for judge

Two Allen County officials lead the group of eight attorneys seeking to fill the Allen County Superior Court civil judge opening created by the retirement of Judge Stephen Sims and the decision by Judge Dan Heath to take Sims’ Family Court seat.

For weeks, the members of the county’s legal community have talked about Circuit Court Magistrate Craig Bobay and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander being among the top candidates. McAlexander was a candidate before, losing to incumbent Judge Ken Scheibenberger for a Criminal Division seat in 1998. McAlexander was also city public safety director under Mayor Paul Helmke from 1989 to 1992.

Bobay is a veteran of the local courts, having served as a Superior Court referee before taking the Circuit Court position. Both referees and magistrates have many of the same responsibilities and require the same skills as judges.

Another magistrate, Jennifer DeGroote, is in the field, as is former deputy prosecutor Laurie Gray. The remaining applicants are attorneys in private practice: John Cowan, Carrie Hawk Gutman, Michael Michmerhuizen and Patrick Proctor.

Both Bobay and McAlexander appear to have decent chances of being selected to be among the three finalists for the position, while the local nominating commission – which includes three lawyers, three non-lawyers and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David – may well decide to also choose one of the three female applicants. Gov. Mike Pence will pick one of the three finalists for the spot.

Moving on

This is likely my last column as The Journal Gazette’s editorial page editor. After 13 years in the position – and 31 years at the newspaper – I have accepted a position in corporate communications at Indiana Michigan Power beginning next Monday. I am happy to report I will remain in Fort Wayne.

I want to thank Craig Klugman, my editor for all but a couple of months of those 31 years, for being a mentor, a role model, a teacher and the best word editor I’ve ever worked with. He and the newspaper’s publishers – Julie Inskeep, and her predecessor and father, Richard Inskeep – have given me the opportunity to have one of the greatest jobs in American journalism, as well as much support and insight. Fort Wayne is truly fortunate to have a newspaper led by such a community-minded family.

Along the way, I worked as a reporter, copy editor, Metro editor (for those old enough to remember, that’s the “Lou Grant” job) and more. Not bad for a former Hartford City boy. I’ve worked with numerous talented journalists here, and saying farewell Friday will not be easy. I’ve also met countless citizens and officials who have shown me so much about the people in this caring city and area.

Finally, thanks to The Journal Gazette’s loyal readers and advertisers who make it all possible.

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Tracy Warner, editorial page editor, has worked at The Journal Gazette since 1981. He can be reached at 461-8113 or by email,