Pinellas County Judge Henry Andringa has announced that he plans to retire, so voters will decide later this year whether the county gets another Judge Andringa.
Scott Andringa, 43, a defense attorney and former prosecutor, has begun campaigning for the seat now held by his father.
Cathy McKyton, 44, also is running for the position. She is a prosecutor for the Office of Statewide Prosecution who also has worked for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.
Andringa admires his father and says, "I could scarcely do better than to follow in my dad's experience." But the Madeira Beach resident said it's his own 19-year legal career that makes him well qualified. That includes about 13 years as a prosecutor, mostly for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, plus defense work and work as a civil court mediator.
At the State Attorney's Office in Pasco County, Andringa handled a variety of cases, including prosecuting sex criminals and crooked dance studio operators.
One of his cases gained national publicity and controversy from some who called it overzealous prosecution. It was the drug trafficking case against Richard Paey, of Hudson, who purchased hundreds of pills illegally, but said he simply needed them to manage his own chronic pain. Paey eventually was pardoned by Gov. Charlie Crist.
Andringa said "I have always had sympathy for Mr. Paey as well as his family from the day that I was assigned the case and I certainly understand that reasonable people may differ on how that case should have been handled." He called it "a very difficult case that I handled as part of a larger office."
Andringa, 43, has been a youth soccer coach. He also is a bone cancer survivor and has accepted an offer to go on a fundraising and awareness mission to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in late June and early July. Even though it's in campaign season, he said this chance to raise money to fight cancer is a "once in a lifetime possibility that I could not pass up." Andringa, who is divorced, graduated from Stetson University College of Law.
As a local prosecutor, Cathy Mc- Kyton handled serious crimes such as DUI-manslaughter and others. In her job as a statewide prosecutor, she often handles highly complex cases that stretch across the state. One was called Operation Beauty Stop, which she said was considered the "largest organized retail theft ring in the country." Another case involved a scheme to use homeless people to cash counterfeit checks.
McKyton also stresses her community involvement, including work in Junior League, which "taught me about civic leadership and how we all step up and use our skills and use our leadership to do more with our community."
As a lawyer, McKyton said she has learned to make good decisions, and "every single decision that you make, big or little, affects people's lives."
That's also true of judges, she said. She pledged to preside in court in such a way that "everyone has the opportunity to be heard and has the opportunity to feel as though they've had their say and they've been treated fairly."
McKyton, of St. Petersburg, is married with two children. She graduated from Stetson University College of Law, and has been a lawyer since 1997.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at (727) 893-8232 or [email protected]