Final roster of judicial candidates

The Marion County Judicial Center is shown in Ocala, Fla. on Wednesday, August 5, 2020. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.

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Posted June 17, 2022 | By Ocala Gazette Staff

All judicial candidates have qualified to run for the two county court judicial seats on the ballot August 23.

According to the Office of the State Court’s Administrator’s website, “The majority of non-jury trials in Florida take place before one judge sitting as a judge of the county court. The county courts are sometimes referred to as the people’s courts, probably because a large part of the courts’ work involves voluminous citizen disputes, such as traffic offenses, less serious criminal matters (misdemeanors), and relatively small monetary disputes.”

However, the threshold of monetary disputes is increasing from $30,000 to $50,000 on January 1, 2023, arguably bringing more complex civil matters to county court dockets.

Seat 1

This judicial seat became available upon the announcement by County Court Judge James McCune that he would be retiring and filing to run again when his term ends at the end of 2022.

LeAnn Mackey-Barnes, a career public defender has collected $13,950 in cash campaign contributions and expended $13,512.44 according to filed financial reports.

Danielle B. Ruse, a career state attorney has collected $31,550 in cash contributions and spent $13,338.40 according to filed financial reports.

Renee Thompson a civil lawyer and mediator has collected $23,000 in cash contributions and spent $12,981.05 according to filed financial reports.

Seat 2

Lori Cotton, a career state attorney who was appointed judge last year by the governor to fill the seat left empty by the retirement of Judge Sarah Ritterhoff Williams. To date, Cotton has collected $43,530.88 in cash contributions and expended $5,345.91.

William Harris, a county attorney who has worked for the state attorney’s office and in private civil practice, has raised $35,775 and expended $20,241.33.

County court judges serve six-year terms.

The voter registration deadline is July 25. Election Day will be held on Aug. 23. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Early voting begins on Aug. 13 and runs through to Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The mail ballot request deadline is Aug. 13 by 5 p.m. (Mail ballots must be received by the supervisor of Elections office by 7 p.m. Election Day to be counted.)