A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Candidate for Kenton County Court judge seeks to disqualify an opponent over residency requirement

By Jack Brammer
NKyTribune reporter

Ashley McNeese, a candidate for judge in Kenton Family Court’s new 6th division, claims in a lawsuit that one of her opponents in the race, Maria Kathleen Ante, fails to meet residency requirements and should be disqualified from the race that has three other candidates.

In a 21-page lawsuit filed late Tuesday in Kenton Circuit Court, McNeese alleges Ante has not been a resident of Kenton County for the constitutionally required period of two years prior to taking office and that makes her ineligible to run for the seat in the Nov. 8 election for an eight-year term.

Ashley McNeese

Ante did not return a phone call to her cell phone seeking comment.

The Kentucky Supreme Court in April ordered the new and third Family Court in Kenton County to take effect Jan. 2, 2023. The court deals with cases like divorce, child support, domestic violence, and adoption.

Five attorneys entered the race for the judgeship that pays $141,392.08 a year. The other candidates besides McNeese of Independence and Ante of Villa Hills are Donna M. Bloemer of Ft. Wright, Tom Rauf of Edgewood, and Pete Roush of Edgewood.

McNeese claims in her lawsuit against Ante that Ante “took no steps to establish residency in Kenton County prior to Jan. 1, 2021.”

The lawsuit says Ante lived in Hebron in Boone County prior to buying a house on or about Oct. 29, 2021, in Villa Hills in Kenton County.

Ante does not meet the two-year residency requirement to run for a judgeship in Kenton County, the lawsuit says.

McNeese’s campaign manager, Steve Kramer, released a statement Tuesday night from McNeese.

In it, McNeese said, “Today I took steps to help maintain the integrity in the Kenton Family Court. For the past several years the Kenton Family Court has had its share of controversy which has resulted in the removal of a judge from office at a great expense to Kenton County taxpayers.

Maria Kathleen Ante

“This controversy has also eroded the public confidence in the Kenton County Family Court system as a whole and created uncertainty for both litigants and attorneys during the removal process and appointment process.

“When I decided to file for the newly created Kenton Family Court 6th division it was a decision I did not take lightly. My decision to run for this office was guided by my faith, my family, my sense of integrity, and my dedication to public service.

“This is why today I filed a challenge to one of my opponents’ candidacy for the Kenton Family Court 6th Division.”

McNeese said she “decided I could not sit back silently and allow someone who does not meet the qualifications to run for this seat.

“This situation could potentially bring more turmoil and challenges to the Family Court system and to the county where I have dedicated my entire career to public service. My morals, ethics, and values have put me in a position where I felt like I needed to step up and do the right thing.”

Ante has practiced law in Kentucky since 2011 and in Ohio since 2010. She graduated from Ursuline Academy high school in Blue Ash, Ohio, in 2002, from Northern Kentucky University in 2006, and from Chase Law School in 2010.

McNeese graduated from Chase in 2010 and Tennessee Technological University in 2004. She is a member of the Northern Kentucky and Kentucky bar associations. As an assistant Kenton County Attorney, she also is a member of the Kentucky County Attorneys Association.

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