SAFETY HARBOR — Mayor Andy Steingold plans to run to replace Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce, a move that will require him to resign as mayor about 15 months before the end of his term.
The decision was not an easy one, he said this week, but by the time he leaves, he will have served nearly eight years on the Safety Harbor City Commission and "others need the chance to serve." He added that the city is running smoothly and he has accomplished most of his goals there.
Steingold, a lawyer who specializes in medical negligence and wrongful death claims, has harbored a desire to be a judge for years. In 1993, he ran for county judge in Hillsborough County, but lost that race.
He decided that now was the time to try again because, he said, Luce is retiring and open seats on the bench don't occur that often. He said he didn't want to challenge a sitting judge.
One other person, Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Bill Burgess of Seminole, has announced plans to run for Luce's seat on the bench. Burgess, a career prosecutor and former Army Special Forces member, has written a book on Florida's sentencing laws. Burgess announced his candidacy in October.
The official qualifying period for judicial seats does not open until April 16.
State law requires Steingold to submit a binding letter of resignation 10 days before the qualifying period. Win or lose, he will have to leave the mayor's post in January 2013, he said.
Because there will be more than one year remaining in his term, Steingold said the city will have to schedule an election, likely in March 2013, to elect someone to finish his term.
Steingold graduated in 1983 from the University of South Florida and in 1987 from the Cumberland School of Law in Alabama. He worked for the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office until 1991, when he went into solo practice. He has worked for several law firms and currently works full-time for the firm of Maney & Gordon in Tampa.
Steingold has served on the Pinellas Planning Council, the Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Pinellas County Charter Review Commission and the Pinellas Mayors Council, is a member of the Clearwater Bar Association and the Kiwanis Club, and is a volunteer youth football coach. He is married with three young children.
The election for judicial seats is Nov. 6.
Diane Steinle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4184. To submit a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.