Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet the Candidates: County Judge

We Collier County voters have the opportunity to vote for one of two candidates for County Judge this month: Sal Bazaz or Rob Crown.

Sal Bazaz 

Sal Bazaz
Sal Bazaz has been practicing law in Naples (Sal Bazaz PA Attorney at Law) since 2003, and currently specializes in criminal defense law. His campaign slogan is “Collier County, You’ve Got Bazaz!”

Bazaz lives in Naples with his wife Christina and three children, ages 9, 7 and 5.

On his campaign Facebook Page, Bazaz says, “As an attorney I have seen many instances where the judicial system has failed to hear the voices of those they were to protect. Instead of just advocating the right position, I want, as judge, to be able to implement it.”

His campaign website, Facebook Page, and LinkedIn presence make appropriate use of social media. His Twitter feed @SalBazaz is inactive.

Educational Background

  • JD - Law / St. John’s University School of Law, Queens, NY (2001)
  • BA - Political Science / St. John’s University, Queens, NY (1998)

Professional Experience

  • Sal Bazaz PA Attorney at Law (2003 - present) - Specializes in criminal law services
  • New York and Florida Prosecturor’s Office / Prosecutor (1997 - 2003) - Prosecuted misdemeanors, felonies and violations of probation, sex crimes, theft charges, violent crimes, drug charges and traffic offenses
  • Office of the State Attorney, 20th Judicial Circuit - Florida / Assistant State Attorney (2002 - 2003)

Other

  • Successfully passed the NY, NJ and FL Bar Exams

Campaign Finance

Bazaz raised $7,363 in monetary contributions and no in-kind contributions, and spent $6,633 through 8/8/14. In addition to personal contributions totalling $1,500, his largest contributions to-date were:
  • $2,000 - Paul Zangrillo, Naples, on 2/14/14
  • $1,000 - Gulam Bazaz, El Sobrante, CA, on 3/31/14
  • $1,000 - Shirin Bazaz, Austin, TX, on 3/31/14
  • $500 - Salim Bazaz, Naples, on 2/7/14

Robert L. Crown

Robert L. Crown
Robert L. Crown is seeking to retain his position as a Collier County Court Judge. His campaign slogan is “Re-elect Judge Rob Crown.”

Crown and his wife Terry live in Naples. According to his website, Judge Crown is very proud that his four children are the third generation of Crowns to go through the Collier County Public Schools system.

His campaign website and Facebook Page make appropriate use of social media. He has no LinkedIn or Twitter presence.

Educational Background

  • JD - Law / Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, FL (1995)
  • BS - Business Administration / Loyola University, New Orleans, LA (1992)

Professional Experience

  • Collier County Court / Judge (2006 - present)
  • Office of the State Attorney - Florida / prosecutor (~2000 - 2006)
  • Private practice / attorney (~1996 - 2000)

Other

Judge Crown was appointed to his current seat on the bench in 2006 by then-Governor Jeb Bush. He was chosen from over twenty applicants for one of two newly-created positions, after vetting by the nonpartisan Judicial Nominating Commission.

Judge Crown was endorsed by the Naples Daily News on August 5. According to the paper:
It’s not often that a sitting judge draws an election challenge. Typically when they do, the opponent has an objection to make regarding the judge’s conduct. That’s not the case here. Even Crown’s opponent in this race can’t point to a reason the judge should be replaced.

Campaign Finance

Crown raised $27,456 in monetary contributions and $90 in-kind contributions, and spent $21,839 through 8/8/14. In addition to a personal contribution of $500, his largest contributions to-date were:
  • $1,000 - Greg Boll, Naples, on 5/2/14
  • $1,000 - Ted L. Hollander & Assoc., PA, Ft. Myers, on 5/12/14
  • $1,000 - Laird A. Lile, P.A., Naples, on 7/28/14
In addition, Crown had eleven $500 contributions and over 150 other contributions, mostly from law firms in the Naples area.

Discussion

Mr. Bazaz doesn’t seem to have made much of an effort with his campaign, and I found no information about him online other than the social media and website presence. In his Naples Daily News editorial board interview he said he loves working as a sole practitioner, but wants to take his years of experience helping people into the court room.

There’s not much available on Judge Crown, either. The Naples Daily News endorsement simply paraphrases what’s on Crown’s own website.

So without more to go on, while both candidates are qualified, I’m most influenced by the fact that Mr. Bazaz hasn’t worked very hard on his campaign. Judge Crown, not taking his incumbency for granted, took the trouble to fundraise, and his contributions indicate broad local support.

For those reasons, I will vote for Robert Crown for County Judge.

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