Ken Lark at nearly $40,000 raised for Pasco-Pinellas judicial campaign

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Ken Lark has been “training a long time” to reach this moment in his life. After an active and well-rounded legal career, he is now turning his talents on running for Pinellas County Circuit Judge, Group 2.

He is campaigning to replace Judge Ray Gross when he retires the bench at the end of 2014.

For the last 17 years, Lark practiced law, specializing in guardianship, probate litigation, medical malpractice and health law. Before that, however, he developed a distinct skillset by means of a number of occupations in the medical field—as an EMT/paramedic, ER nurse and even a National Ski Patroller, providing outdoor emergency care and safety promotion.

“I’ve spent the past 30 years where I’ve touch upon thousands of lives,” Lark says. “Through these experiences, I’ve developed an understanding of what matters to people and what resonates with the voters and my campaign volunteers and supporters.” 

Although Lark is currently running unopposed for the Circuit Court bench, he has gathered an impressive following so far. His website KenLarkForJudge.com lists over 100 supporters, most of whom are top names in the Pinellas County legal community.

Lark’s fundraising efforts have been just as remarkable, with nearly $40,000 in money and $4,000 in-kind donations raised since January.

“It is truly humbling, and motivating, to hear the words of encouragement from my diverse support base,” Lark says of his campaign success to date. “This helps ‘fill my tank’ and spurs me to work hard every day to meet more people and make personal touches upon voters.”    

In his legal career, Lark is an experienced negotiator who also volunteers as a community lawyer for the St. Petersburg Housing Authority, as well as sitting on the board of the Community Law Program, a service to offer free legal assistance to under-served communities. 

A former first responder, Lark is well suited for his position as a member of Bayfront Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board, which oversees the hospital’s ethical and legal obligations to doctors, patients and the public.

Lark believes the whole of his experiences make him an ideal candidate for the bench, someone fair and equitable to the people he will serve.

“I’ve honed my listening and communicating skills to the point where I believe my judicial decisions will be respected,” he says. “When the participants feel they were given their fair opportunity before me, they will more likely accept the outcome, even if it is not in their favor.”

Once he makes it to the Pinellas County Circuit Court, Lark is ready for whatever the court will offer. Judge Gross’ place was in family court, but if elected in 2014, it doesn’t mean Lark will follow the same caseload as his predecessor.  

“Bench assignments are determined by the Chief Judge for the circuit,” Lark says, “who periodically adjusts assignments based upon the needs of the community and re-assignment requests.”

“I’ve practiced predominantly in all of the non-criminal divisions,” he adds, “and to a lesser degree in crime. The odds are higher that I’d be assigned to a non-criminal bench.”

“My broad life and legal experience will serve me well in any assignment.” 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.