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  1. Florida Politics

Hernando County Judge, Donald M. "Sonny" McCarthan Jr. v. Kristie Ruppe

Sonny McCathran
Sonny McCathran
Published Aug. 18, 2016

Hernando County Judge

This nonpartisan race pits incumbent Donald M. "Sonny" McCathran Jr., who was appointed two years ago, against challenger Kristie Ruppe, who said she was encouraged to run by other local defense attorneys.

About the job: County judges, who serve six-year terms and are paid $138,020 annually, hear traffic, criminal misdemeanor and civil cases concerning sums of less than $15,000.

Donald M. "Sonny" McCathran Jr.,

Profession:

Hernando County judge

Hernando County judge

About the candidate:

McCathran, 43, is a Florida native who grew up and was educated in South Florida before moving to Central Florida to work as an assistant state attorney. He served as a prosecutor for 14 years, in two stints, before his appointment to the bench in 2014. His last job as a prosecutor was as supervisor of the State Attorney's Office in Brooksville. He belongs to the Hernando County Bar Association and has served as a volunteer judge for Hernando County Youth Court.

McCathran, 43, is a Florida native who grew up and was educated in South Florida before moving to Central Florida to work as an assistant state attorney. He served as a prosecutor for 14 years, in two stints, before his appointment to the bench in 2014. His last job as a prosecutor was as supervisor of the State Attorney's Office in Brooksville. He belongs to the Hernando County Bar Association and has served as a volunteer judge for Hernando County Youth Court.

Education:

Graduated from Palmetto High School in Miami and from Florida State University; law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens

Graduated from Palmetto High School in Miami and from Florida State University; law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens

Why are you running for this position?

"I want to continue to serve the citizens of Hernando County as their County Court judge to bring justice to litigants in both civil and criminal matters."

"I want to continue to serve the citizens of Hernando County as their County Court judge to bring justice to litigants in both civil and criminal matters."

What will your priorities be if elected?

"My priority will always be to ensure justice is served in Hernando County. Justice is served by making decisions and rulings based upon the facts and the law. I will continue to promote the judiciary and educate the public regarding the role and duties of the County Court. I will continue to assist in the training and education of paralegals, law students and attorneys who desire to acquire skills to become competent, successful professionals."

"My priority will always be to ensure justice is served in Hernando County. Justice is served by making decisions and rulings based upon the facts and the law. I will continue to promote the judiciary and educate the public regarding the role and duties of the County Court. I will continue to assist in the training and education of paralegals, law students and attorneys who desire to acquire skills to become competent, successful professionals."

Why do you think you are the best qualified candidate?

"I want to continue to serve the citizens of Hernando County as their County Court judge to bring justice to litigants in both civil and criminal matters. ... As a judge, for the first 21 months, I handled nothing but civil cases. Since 2016, I have been handling both civil and criminal cases. I am familiar with, and have addressed, many of the most common legal issues presented by all parties in County Court cases."

"I want to continue to serve the citizens of Hernando County as their County Court judge to bring justice to litigants in both civil and criminal matters. ... As a judge, for the first 21 months, I handled nothing but civil cases. Since 2016, I have been handling both civil and criminal cases. I am familiar with, and have addressed, many of the most common legal issues presented by all parties in County Court cases."

Assets/liabilities/ income:

Assets: $384,326 Liabilities: $278,603 Income: $138,020

Assets: $384,326 Liabilities: $278,603 Income: $138,020

Campaign fundraising:

Contributions: $36,048 Expenditures: $28,668

Contributions: $36,048 Expenditures: $28,668

Personal:

Married to Carla, no children

Married to Carla, no children

On the web:

KeepJudgeSonnyMcCathran.com

KeepJudgeSonnyMcCathran.com

Kristie Ruppe

Profession:

Private lawyer

Private lawyer

About the candidate:

Ruppe, 45, moved many times as a child of a military family, but has roots in the Northeast. She was born in Lowell, Mass., and graduated from high school in New Hampshire. She moved to Hernando 14 years ago to be near family. Previously a prosecutor, she has owned her own law firm in Hernando since 2005. She is a member of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered with organizations including Guardian ad Litem.

Ruppe, 45, moved many times as a child of a military family, but has roots in the Northeast. She was born in Lowell, Mass., and graduated from high school in New Hampshire. She moved to Hernando 14 years ago to be near family. Previously a prosecutor, she has owned her own law firm in Hernando since 2005. She is a member of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and has volunteered with organizations including Guardian ad Litem.

Education:

Graduated from high school in Hudson, N.H. Bachelor's degree from Plymouth State University. Law degree from Rutgers (N.J.) School of Law.

Graduated from high school in Hudson, N.H. Bachelor's degree from Plymouth State University. Law degree from Rutgers (N.J.) School of Law.

Why are you running for this position?

"I care about our community and how it is affected by decisions made by the local judiciary. I do not believe the best interests of our community are being served nor do I feel the values of our county are being fairly reflected."

"I care about our community and how it is affected by decisions made by the local judiciary. I do not believe the best interests of our community are being served nor do I feel the values of our county are being fairly reflected."

What will your priorities be if elected?

"My vision for our county court is for a truly fair, impartial and user-friendly forum for the citizens of Hernando to have their disputes heard. The county court must be a place of honor and dignity evoking public trust and confidence in our judicial system. I intend to be impartial and free from the influence of bias or prejudice so that disputes can be decided according to the law."

"My vision for our county court is for a truly fair, impartial and user-friendly forum for the citizens of Hernando to have their disputes heard. The county court must be a place of honor and dignity evoking public trust and confidence in our judicial system. I intend to be impartial and free from the influence of bias or prejudice so that disputes can be decided according to the law."

Why do you think you are the best qualified candidate?

"My commitment to Hernando County is more diverse and vested than that of my opponent. I moved to Hernando County almost 14 years ago because I felt that Hernando would be a great place to live. I started my own law practice in Spring Hill in 2005, and my husband has owned his business in Hernando for nearly 20 years. We were married in Hernando County 13 years ago and all of our children were born in Spring Hill. I have volunteered at my children's schools and volunteered my time with several organizations focusing on the children in our schools."

"My commitment to Hernando County is more diverse and vested than that of my opponent. I moved to Hernando County almost 14 years ago because I felt that Hernando would be a great place to live. I started my own law practice in Spring Hill in 2005, and my husband has owned his business in Hernando for nearly 20 years. We were married in Hernando County 13 years ago and all of our children were born in Spring Hill. I have volunteered at my children's schools and volunteered my time with several organizations focusing on the children in our schools."

Assets/liabilities/ income:

Assets: $261,527 Liabilities: $172,370 Income: $126,910

Assets: $261,527 Liabilities: $172,370 Income: $126,910

Campaign fundraising:

Contributions: $31,224 Expenditures: $18,709

Contributions: $31,224 Expenditures: $18,709

Personal:

Married to Christopher for 13 years, three children

Married to Christopher for 13 years, three children

On the web:

KristieRuppe4 Judge.com @ruppe4judge KristieRuppe@gmail.com

KristieRuppe4 Judge.com @ruppe4judge KristieRuppe@gmail.com

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