70ºF

7th Judicial Circuit public defender

District covers St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties

Florida judicial circuits map
Florida judicial circuits map

Incumbent Public Defender James Purdy will step down at the end of his current term after 16 years in office. Three Republicans are running to fill the open seat that covers St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties.

Because there is no Democrat or other registered candidates in the race, the August primary will be open to all voters. No no one gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two will advance to the November general election.

  REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES

George Burden

Party affiliation: Republican

Campaign website: burdenforpublicdefender.com

This candidate has not responded to our News4Jax questionnaire.


Anne Marie Gennusa

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 53

Candidate’s family: Bob, retired Sargeant St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office. Rob, Alexa, Joe, Dana & Lauren

Occupation: Attomey/Small Business Owner

Education: JD 1994-Temple University Masters Level Certificates in Human Resource Management and Government Contracting Villanova University

Political experience: None

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

  1. Reducing the costs of the office to the taxpayers;
  2. Providing zealous representation;
  3. Expanding the use of alternative courts to decrease incarceration for non-violent drug offenses, while insuring strict supervision and providing necessary treatment.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have a vastly different perspective on the obligations in running this office. I bring to the position, real business experience. With 21 years as a business owner and over 24 years as an attorney, my experience is not limited to working in one place or just as a public employee. I have extensive knowledge and experience in private and public sectors, that will benefit the voters in a way that is greatly lacking by the others.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

After being elected the 1st female public defender in the 7th Judicial Circuit, I'd like to be remembered for saving the taxpayers of Saint Johns, Flagler, Putnam & Volusia Counties hard earned tax dollars, by increasing the use of technology and reducing the costs of services. I would intend to fulfill the primary obligation of the office and provide zealous advocacy to those who are accused of a crime and can not afford an attorney.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

As your elected public defender, It is my promise that anyone represented by my office will receive a zealous defense regardless of their race, color, creed, sex or national origin. My staff will be proactive in pursuing equal justice under the law for everyone.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

COVID-19 has threatened the way criminal trials are conducted. Jury trials have been delayed since there is no, or limited in-person contact. COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in technology and the ability to communicate during hearings and trials in this manner.

Campaign website: amg2020.com

Campaign social media pages: Facebook | Twitter


Matt Metz

Party affiliation: Republican

Age

34

Add Tag to Answer

5. Candidate's family

Married to Sarah Metz and we have two children, Lyons Metz (4) and Charlotte Metz (2)

Add Tag to Answer

6. Occupation

Felony Division Chief, Public Defender's Office, 7th Circuit

Add Tag to Answer

7. Education

B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Florida and J.D. from Florida State University (Cum Laude)

Add Tag to Answer

8. Political experience

None

Add Tag to Answer

9. What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

1. Attorney retention- The Office of the Public Defender needs to focus on keeping skilled attorneys for the long term.

2. Training- We need to focus on providing a more structured training regime for our newest attorneys and creating inter-office training workshops to stay maintain a strong working knowledge of changes in the law.

3. The Budget- the Corona-virus has devastated the revenue streams for the State of Florida and subsequently our budget will most likely be affected.

Add Tag to Answer Select Quote

10. How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I am the only candidate who is a Board Certified Trial Attorney and am the best prepared to pass on that knowledge to new attorneys. Additionally, I am the only candidate both carrying a caseload and managing other attorneys. I have been dealing with the day-to-day stresses of being available to my clients while managing the largest trial office in this circuit. I am a capable leader who has a good handle on where we can improve. I was part of the working group tasked with transitioning our office to paperless. I know how to execute large projects over time.

Add Tag to Answer Select Quote

11. What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I hope to be remembered for developing the most diligent and confident group of trial and appellate attorneys in the state.

If elected how would you address the calls for racial justice?

I will hold regular training sessions to address issues of implicit bias and create a system to evaluate potential hires without knowledge of their race or gender.

What challenges does COVID-19 present to the office you are seeking?

Covid-19 has caused a complete disruption in the criminal justice system. In Florida, the right to a speedy trial has been suspended for over 3 months. We been unable to have in-person office visits and we have had limited access to our clients in jail. The virus has required us to be increasingly diligent to ensure that those accused of a crime are not deprived of due process.

Campaign website: votemattmetz.com

Campaign social media pages: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram