There are two judicial races on everyone's primary ballot in Palm Beach County. Both will be decided on August 23rd since each one has two candidates.
Last week, we covered the Circuit Court, Group 23 race between Alcolya St. Juste and Caryn Siperstein.
This race is for the County Court, Group 9 seat where the incumbent Judge Paul Damico was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush in 2001. He has run unopposed each election since...until now.
Damico's challenger is Karen Velez, who operates her own law firm in Boca Raton after 12 years at the public defender's office. That's one area where Damico points out the candidates' differences.
"Unlike my opponent who was a public defender in Broward County, my first job after law school was as a prosecutor here in Palm Beach County. I've always served residents of Palm Beach County. I did that for approximately ten years."
Damico then spent five years working as an assistant public defender here.
"Best decision I could've made because it did what I needed. It rounded me out professionally and it made me a more balanced judge, a much more prepared judge for that job and I believe a better judge even today."
Velez calls law her third profession, starting in the insurance industry and handling personal and automobile claims. She later worked as a high school teacher, and was in the classroom on 9/11.
"You know, helping students that were terrified and worried and scared navigate the horrific event that is 9/11. And then it was after that experience that I took stock of my life, if you will, realized life is short and went to law school."
Velez says those experiences, along with her 16 years as an attorney have prepared her well to be a judge.
"The fact that I have business world experience, the fact that I have claims experience, civil and criminal litigation...all of that is not common."
A reminder that judicial races are non-partisan, meaning all voters regardless of party affiliation are eligible to vote on this race.