TAMPA — Hillsborough County and Circuit judges elected Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta to succeed Manuel Menendez Jr., as chief judge for the 13th Judicial Circuit.
Ficarrotta, 55, will become chief judge on Jan. 1, completing Menendez’s current term, which expires June 30. Menendez, 57, is retiring Dec. 31.
Ficarrotta ran against Judge William Levens. Court officials would not release the vote totals, but said the winner had to receive at least 32 votes from the 62 judges who could cast ballots.
Menendez has served as chief judge since July 2001. He was appointed Hillsborough County Court Judge by Gov. Bob Graham in 1983 and a year later to the circuit bench.
He has also served as a 2nd District Court of Appeal judge.
Ficarrotta was appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles to the county court bench in 1994. In 1999, he was appointed to the Circuit Court by Gov. Jeb Bush.
He currently serves in the felony division. He has previously served in county criminal, domestic violence and family law divisions.
Another judicial election is expected in February for the full two-year term of the chief judge.