Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Incumbent judge and several lawyers win Pinellas-Pasco judgeships

There were no real surprises or upsets in the Sixth Circuit judicial election results on Tuesday night, but one three-way race will not be going to a runoff.

Alicia Polk, 36, won her race against private attorney Ken Lark, 55, and lawyer Alan Rosenthal, 43, outright, with about 52 percent of the vote. Lark came in second with about 30 percent, and Rosenthal came in a distant third with about 17 percent.

"I feel fantastic," Polk said on Tuesday night. "I'm glad all the hard work paid off. I thought for sure it would go to a runoff. I'm just thrilled the community came out and supported me and I hope I can live up to the expectations. It's a hard job but I'm ready for it."

Polk will replace departing Judge Raymond Gross.

Assistant State Attorney Susan St. John, 40, beat attorney Laura Snell, 34, with about 68 to 32 percent of the vote.

St. John spent 10 years as a Pinellas-Pasco assistant state attorney. She worked her way through juvenile cases, domestic violence and child abuse prosecutions before becoming the supervising attorney of the gang unit. She has handled more than 70 jury trials, and she's known for her strong work ethic and ability to manage a heavy case load. She ran for circuit judge four years ago and lost, and she was a finalist last year for a gubernatorial appointment to the bench. She'll replace retiring Judge Lauren Laughlin.

Veteran St. Petersburg lawyer Brian Battaglia, 53, lost to Clearwater lawyer Kimberly Sharpe, 33. Sharpe captured about 54 percent of the vote.

She has been practicing law for eight years at the Clearwater firm of Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns. She became a partner more than two years ago. Though she has little jury trial experience, she regularly appeared in courtrooms for hearings on various issues and has done some appellate work. She has experience in areas ranging from probate to land use to employment law. Sharpe will replace retiring Judge Walt Logan.

Assistant State Attorney Phil Matthey, 37, defeated private attorney Amanda Colon, 38, with about 55 percent of the vote.

Matthey, a former Orange County deputy sheriff, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Florida to attend college. He graduated from law school and spent four years as an assistant state attorney in Clearwater. Then, he moved to Jacksonville for family reasons and was in private practice for a year there before returning in January 2010 to work for State Attorney Bernie McCabe in Pasco County. He'll replace retiring Judge Stanley Mills.

The only incumbent in the judicial races was Judge Bruce Boyer, 67. He defeated attorney Jon Newlon, 41, with about 70 percent of the vote. Boyer has presided over more than 200 jury trials. He closes roughly 1,500 cases a year, and his decisions have rarely been reversed on appeal.

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