Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Group 2 candidates vying for judge have varying levels of experience

The three candidates campaigning to replace retiring Circuit Judge Raymond Gross in the Group 2 judicial election for Pinellas and Pasco all work in private practice but bring widely different life experiences.

Ken Lark, 55, worked in the medical field for many years before going to law school in his 30s. Alicia Polk, 36, worked briefly as a prosecutor before moving into private practice, where she handles civil, family and personal injury and criminal defense law. Alan Rosenthal, 43, is an avid musician and a black belt in tae kwon do, and has his own practice where he concentrates on marital and family law

Lark thought he would be in the medical field for the rest of his life. A native of Massachusetts, he started as a paramedic in college and eventually earned a nursing degree and a license that he still holds. He worked in home health care and hospital supervision, where he regularly saw mentally ill and abused patients.

"I do think it's one of those things where you start to recognize there's more that you can do," he said.

At 34, he went to law school at Florida State University. His first case as a clerk for U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore in Tampa, he said, was a medical malpractice suit. He went on to start his own practice, where he does guardianship and probate litigation, medical malpractice and health law. He is a certified family mediator, and he cites that, along with his many years in the courtroom, as strengths that would help him be a good judge. He's also involved with the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, where he volunteers as a community lawyer.

About five years ago, he married his new wife, Lynette.

Polk was born in Dade City and went to Stetson University College of Law. She worked for the State Attorney's Office as a certified law intern and then as an attorney for less than a year in 2003. From there, she went into private practice. She is a certified family mediator — a credential she has advertised on her website and mailers — but her certification lapsed last month.

Polk acknowledged she should have gotten recertified and said she planned to do it within days. As for her experience, she said it tell its own story.

"I have a diverse background in the field," she said. "I was a trial state attorney and then went into the private sector."

She has the right temperament to be a judge, she said, and knows how to work with people. Being a partner in her own firm, she said, allows her to oversee a variety of legal issues in court.

Married with two young boys, Polk said one of the most difficult moments in her life was holding her newborn son and learning he had a hearing disability.

"It made me learn how to put things in perspective," she said.

She's the president of the Academy at the Farm Charter School's parent teacher organization, which raises funds for the school, and she serves on its board. She's active in the community as well, organizing events like the Pasco Touch-a-Truck fundraiser.

Rosenthal was born in the Bronx and grew up in Coral Springs. He also went to Stetson Law School. He has been a lawyer for more than 16 years, practicing criminal, civil, probate, dependency, personal injury, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy law.

"Out of the three candidates running," he said, "I have the most experience."

He likens being a lawyer to learning how to drive a car — at first, it's difficult and you drive with blinders on. But as experience grows, you learn to recognize the nuances and grow comfortable and confident. He's ready, he said, to take the next step in his career and put all his experience to good use.

Rosenthal is married with two children. He's a musician, a martial artist, a member of Shriner's International and a woodworker. The hardest thing he's ever gone through, he said, was watching his mother fight breast cancer. The experience made him question his own mortality, he said, and helped him to focus on what's important.

"Thankfully," he said, "she's still with us."

The three candidates will appear on the Aug. 26 primary ballot. If none gets a majority of votes — 50 percent plus one — the top two finishers will face a runoff on Nov. 4.

News researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Jon Silman at (727) 869-6229 or Follow @Jonsilman1.

Group 2 candidates vying for judge have varying levels of experience 08/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 12:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Manahattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting


    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  5. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]