LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch resident Thomas Krug can’t pinpoint the time at which he first wanted to become a judge.
But he can tell you when he hopes to see his dream come to fruition.
Early last month, Krug announced his candidacy for the Group 11 seat for the 12th Judicial Circuit being vacated by retiring Judge Robert Bennett this fall. The seat handles cases in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.
“What I’m trying to do right now is what my ultimate goal is,” Krug said, a longtime attorney with the Sarasota County State Attorney’s Office. “It’s what my dream is.”
Krug grew up in California surrounded by the dot-com boom. The leaders in his community often proved to be attorneys, which planted a seed for Krug’s future.
A sharp mind and a natural knack for athletics — particularly football — landed Krug on a full scholarship at Notre Dame as quarterback under Hall-of-Fame coach Lou Holtz. Leadership, decision-making and other skills he learned on the gridiron are ones Krug has carried through the rest of his life, he said.
“I really loved playing sports, and I’m a really competitive person,” Krug said. “Sports teach such great life lessons. It’s a part of me I’m proud of.”
After completed his undergraduate degree, Krug ventured to New York City to work for a sports management company. But two years later, Krug decided to change his course and become an attorney, taking the first step to filling a vision he’d held at bay for years.
“It’s always something that intrigued me,” Krug said of becoming a judge. “In my mind, being a judge is such a valuable and important part of a community. I think that any family could have many reasons why a judge could enter their lives — foreclosure, someone breaks into their home, (etc). It’s a judge often times who makes the decision of what is legally right.”
He entered Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport. From that moment, Krug’s passion for law never waned.
“I knew what I had found what I wanted to do,” he said.
Krug’s final year of law school, when he took an internship with the Sarasota County State Attorney’s Office, proved to be the most rewarding. It was there he sampled actually presenting cases in the courtroom.
“Doing that internship, I fell in love with law — being a prosecutor,” Krug said.
It’s been more than 10 years since Krug joined the state attorney’s office, and although Krug loves his current position, he knows it’s time to move forward.
“I feel like now is the right time,” Krug said of running for judge. “I feel like I’m ready.”
Krug has taken a leave of absence from his role with the state attorney’s office to focus full-time on his campaign. Currently, he has no competitors in the race for the Group 11 seat, but Krug has no intentions of staying dormant.
Besides taking his children to school on weekdays and juggling various athletic practices and school functions, Krug’s days are filled with phone calls, appointments and other efforts to get his name established as the candidate of choice.
“Doing the right thing is following what the law is,” Krug said. “A good judge is one that understands what the law is, has compassion and applies the (law appropriately). I think it’s protecting the community.”
After spending years as a prosecutor and trial attorney trying murder and sexual battery cases, among others, Krug’s peers selected him to serve on the local Florida Bar Grievance Committee, which reviews complaints against local attorneys. His candidacy already has received endorsement from names such as Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, Public Defender Larry Eger and his boss, State Attorney Earl Moreland.
“I’ve always been good at listening and soaking everything in before writing and speaking,” Krug said.
The veteran attorney also said, if elected, he would miss prosecuting cases and advocating a side, but his eyes now are on the goal before him.
“I’m looking forward to the differences that (come with being a judge),” he said.
rug and his wife, Sherri Vitale-Krug, have three children: twins Jake and Connor, 7, and Ava Grace, 4. The family resides in the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.
For more information on Krug, visit his Web site, www.thomaskrugforjudge.com.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].