The only incumbent running for re-election as a 6th Circuit Court judge held onto his seat in the primary election, but Pinellas and Pasco counties will have four new people presiding in their courtrooms.
With a substantial majority of the vote, Susan St. John defeated Laura Snell to replace retiring Judge Lauren Laughlin in the 6th circuit court. The 40-year-old assistant state attorney has worked on more than 100 felony cases for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, where she has been for the last 10 years. St. John specifically has worked on gang- and youth-related cases, and was named “prosecutor of the year” in 2012 for the 6th circuit.
In the circuit’s only three-way judicial competition, Alicia Polk garnered more than half the votes cast to defeat Alan Scott Rosenthal and Ken Lark, and will replace retiring Judge Raymond Gross. Polk, 36, is in private practice in Dade City, but previously worked as a prosecutor for the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office. Her concentration is on family law, criminal defense and civil litigation. She also serves on the board of the Academy at the Farm Charter School in Dade City.
Kim Sharpe, who won more than half the vote to defeat Brian Battaglia, will replace retiring Judge Walt Logan. The 33-year-old is a partner at a Clearwater firm and has participated in cases before the federal appeals court in Atlanta and the state appeals court in Tampa. Prior to the election Sharpe was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and Pasco County Sheriff’s Lodge.
Phil Matthey, 37, took more than half the ballots cast to defeat Amanda Colon. He will replace retiring Judge Stanley Mills. Matthey handles felony cases including murders, sex offenses and armed battery. He previously worked in Orlando as a sheriff’s deputy before becoming a lawyer. Matthey is a committee member for Ducks Unlimited, a wetlands and waterfowl conservation group, and also teaches fifth-graders in Wesley Chapel about the U.S. Constitution.
Incumbent Bruce Boyer held onto his seat for 6th Circuit Court judge, capturing about two-thirds of the vote to beat challenger John Newlon. The 67-year-old first ran for the office in 1990 and has served ever since. During his tenure he has overseen more than 200 trials and has served in every court division. Newlon said one of the reasons he was challenging Boyer was a state law that would prevent the incumbent from fulfilling the six-year term when he reaches age 70.
Nineteen of the judicial candidates on Tuesday’s ballot were not facing any challengers.
They are Edwin B. Jagger, John Carassas, Robert G. Dittmer, James Vincent Pierce, Mary Morrissey Handsel, Pamela A.M. Campbell, Susan L. Gardner, Mark Shames, Shawn Crane, Linda H. Babb, Jack St. Arnold, Anthony Rondolino, Jim Stearns, John A. Schaefer, Daniel D. Diskey, Linda Allan, George M. Jirotka, Walter L. “Skip” Schafer Jr. and Thane Bobbitt Covert.