Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
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Voters have choices in 5 races for circuit judge


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Voters in the Sixth Judicial Circuit will see five circuit judge races on the ballot when they go to the polls for early voting or on Election Day on Tuesday.

Nineteen judges in the circuit, which covers Pasco and Pinellas counties, were re-elected without opposition and won’t appear on the ballot.

But one judge, Bruce Boyer, has drawn a challenge, and four other seats are open where judges are retiring. Circuit judge races are nonpartisan elections, so all registered voters may cast a ballot in the election.

The starting salary for circuit judges is $145,080 a year.

Here’s a quick look at the candidates for each judgeship.

Group 1

This race pits Laura Snell against Susan St. John.

Snell, 34, is a senior assistant public defender who supervises the juvenile division and is an adjunct professor at Stetson University College of Law. She holds a law degree from Stetson and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and political science from the University of Central Florida.

St. John, 40, is an Army veteran and a prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office. She holds a law degree from Stetson University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in legal studies from the University of Central Florida.

Group 2

This race has three candidates — Ken Lark, Alicia Polk and Alan Scott Rosenthal — which means there could be a runoff in November if no one receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

Lark, 55, worked as a paramedic and registered nurse before earning his law degree. He has a private practice in St. Petersburg. He holds a nursing degree from the University of Vermont, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Saint Leo University and a law degree from Florida State University’s College of Law.

Polk, 36, is a former prosecutor for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office who now works for a private law firm in Dade City. Her law degree is from the Stetson University College of Law.

Rosenthal, 43, has a private practice in St. Petersburg. He holds a bachelor’s degree in telecommunication from the University of Florida and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

Group 16

Two lawyers in private practice — Brian Battaglia and Kimberly “Kim” Sharpe — are vying for this judgeship.

Battaglia, 53, has a private practice in St. Petersburg. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University and a law degree from Drake University School of Law.

Sharpe, 33, is a partner in a Clearwater law firm. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer and information science, and a law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

Group 21

Amanda Colon and Phil Matthey, two lawyers with experience as prosecutors, are competing in this race.

Colon, 38, is a former prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office and assistant attorney general. She now has a private practice in Port Richey. Colon has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Florida and a law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

Matthey, 37, is a prosecutor with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office and is a former deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. He studied criminal justice at the University of Florida and graduated from the police academy at Santa Fe Community College. He holds a law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

Group 35

This race involves the only sitting circuit judge on the ballot, Bruce Boyer. He is being challenged by lawyer Jon Newlon.

Boyer, 67, is a sitting circuit judge who has held the office since 1990. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Eastern Kentucky University, a master’s degree in education from Morehead State University and a law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law.

Newlon, 41, is in private practice in Dade City. He is a graduate of the University of South Florida and holds a law degree from the University of Florida College of Law.

He is challenging Boyer, in part, because state law will prevent the judge from completing the six-year term when he turns 70.

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