John Flynn and Ruth Moracen Knight will meet in a runoff election for Group 8 County Choose after an election marred by accusations of partisan campaigning.
Flynn, a lawyer with a observe in Bartow, acquired 35.8% of the vote within the five-way race. Knight, an assistant public defender, got here in second with 19.9%. She narrowly edged Adam Patton, a Lakeland lawyer, who acquired 18.9%.
As a result of no candidate acquired a majority, the highest two finishers will likely be on the poll for the Nov. 8 basic election.
Tara Wheat, a Winter Haven lawyer, positioned fourth with 16.3% of the vote, adopted by Carmalita Lall at 9.1%.
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The seat on the tenth Judicial Circuit turned open as County Choose Susan Barber ran for a place as a circuit courtroom choose. Barber confronted no opposition and can assume her new title in January.
The duties of the county choose will likely be assigned after the winner is set. County judges oversee instances in such areas as legal, civil, evictions and small claims. The tenth Judicial Circuit, based mostly in Bartow, covers Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties.
Flynn, 48, has operated his personal personal observe in Bartow since 2005. He holds a bachelor’s diploma from the College of Tampa, a grasp’s diploma in enterprise from Nova Southeastern College and a legislation diploma from Loyola College in New Orleans.
After passing The Florida Bar examination in 2002, Flynn started his profession within the State Lawyer’s Workplace for the tenth Judicial Circuit underneath the now-retired Jerry Hill. He spent three years as a prosecutor earlier than going into personal observe and finally opening his personal agency, The Flynn Regulation Group.
The Mulberry resident mentioned he handles principally legal instances however has additionally labored in household and civil legislation.
Knight, 54, has labored for the Public Defender’s Workplace of the tenth Judicial Circuit for the previous 20 years.
She got here to the U.S. when her mother and father fled Cuba in 1985, and stay a few of her youth in Puerto Rico. She holds a bachelor’s diploma from the College of Puerto Rico Cayey College Faculty, the place she studied psychology and group psychological well being. She acquired her legislation diploma from the College of Florida Levin Faculty of Regulation.
Within the ultimate week of the marketing campaign, accusations of partisan campaigning arose.
The Polk County Republican Celebration posted what gave the impression to be a marketing campaign commercial for Flynn on its web site, although events are barred by Florida legislation from endorsing judicial candidates. J.C. Martin, chair of the Polk GOP, advised a Ledger reporter that the get together’s board had endorsed Flynn, although Ed Shoemaker, a member of the chief committee, mentioned the management had not issued any endorsements within the nonpartisan race.
Flynn mentioned he was not conscious of the graphic posted on the Polk GOP web site. After an inquiry from a Ledger reporter, the get together added a disclaimer Friday saying that the discover was not an endorsement. By Friday night, the illustration had been eliminated.
Dena DeCamp, a volunteer for Flynn’s marketing campaign, attended a gathering of the Polk County GOP final week and supplied a spoken pitch for the candidate. Flynn attended a gathering of Polk Patriots, a gaggle headed by DeCamp that she mentioned is nonpartisan.
That prompted Patton’s spouse, Heather McArthur, to file an criticism with the Lakeland Police Division, in keeping with an incident report. An officer responded and decided that the group was nonpartisan.
Patton, 43, is a former prosecutor who now operates a solo legislation observe in Lakeland.
Patton, a Lakeland resident, educated as a mediator earlier than receiving a legislation diploma in 2011 from Florida Coastal Faculty of Regulation in Jacksonville. He labored as an assistant prosecutor within the State Lawyer’s Workplace for the tenth Judicial Circuit underneath Hill. He left and in 2016 opened his personal legislation agency.
Wheat, a graduate of Lake Wales Excessive Faculty, spent a few decade as a trainer at public colleges in Polk County. She acquired her legislation diploma in 2012 from Stetson College Faculty of Regulation in Gulfport.
Wheat, 39, left instructing to observe legislation full time and joined the Public Defender’s Workplace of the tenth Judicial Circuit, based mostly in Bartow. She left that place to grow to be a personal lawyer.