The first stop is the former site of the Crown House restaurant along U.S. 301. Erika Quartermaine explains that her family owned the property while the restaurant was there, and she grew up in a little house behind the restaurant.
“I spent my childhood in the back of the restaurant; there was no day care,” says Quartermaine. “I was always in the back of the restaurant with the dishwashers and the servers. I just remember those were my friends; I used to wash the dishes with them. That was just my life. I got to know people from all different backgrounds, and it was a great way
to grow up.”
The 35-year-old mother of two and Sarasota native smiles a lot as she talks, easily carrying the conversation as she drives around town, explaining how growing up in Sarasota influenced her life. She’s proud of her family’s heritage in Sarasota, and constantly points out area landmarks that hold special significance to her.
On Nov. 15 Gov. Rick Scott appointed Quartermaine to take the bench in the Sarasota County Court, giving her the chance to shape the future of the town that shaped her life.
“County court is a place where you can make a real difference,” Quartermaine says, reflecting on the responsibility of her new position. “You affect people’s lives in a huge way. Even if someone is just there for a traffic citation, it might be his or her only exposure to the criminal justice system. I’m going to be able to affect change in a positive way.”
The University of Miami Law School graduate and assistant state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit moves into a vacancy on the Sarasota Court left when Judge Kimberly Bonner was appointed to the circuit court.
Quartermaine is a 1996 graduate of Pine View School and lives in Lakewood Ranch with her husband, Dr. Sam Quartermaine, and their two children.
The next stop is the Sarasota Ski-a-Rees facility on City Island. Quartermaine talks about her time on the ski team growing up and how she met her future husband, a former Ski-a-Rees and Sailor Circus member, while on the team. From the Ski-a Rees training facility overlooking the bay and the city of Sarasota skyline, she points proudly to her name etched on the clubhouse wall. She smiles and recalls how members of the ski team and the Sailor Circus used to hang around together growing up.
Next, it’s on to the former Pine View School for the Gifted campus — once a field of portables and improvised athletic fields, now the site of the Phoenix Academy. She talks about how the tough academic standards of the school prepared her for her career, but, most importantly she explains, the school exposed to her a lot different ideas and
the meaning of justice.
“There was something special about Pine View,” she says.
Quartermaine’s history with Sarasota dots the landscape. She points out the former site of some of her family’s businesses, including the old Mr. Donut next to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and her great-aunt’s former restaurant, Martine’s, just a few blocks north along U.S. 41. There’s even a street in Sarasota — Nikla Lane — named after her family (Nikla is Quartermaine’s maiden name).
And now there’s a new addition to the list of family landmarks — the Sarasota County Courthouse.
Quartermaine said she was at work Nov. 15 when Scott called to inform her that she had been appointed, out of a field of more than 30 applicants, to step into to role of judge for the Sarasota County Court.
“At first I thought it was a prank call,” Quartermaine says. “After I got off the phone, I asked myself, ‘Did that really happen? Is that for real?’”
But, after guiding her career toward the goal of being a judge for more than 10 years, the news didn’t take long to sink in.
“I’m a little nervous,” Quartermaine explains. “It will be a challenge. But I’ve spent thousands of hours in a courtroom. I feel prepared.”
Quartermaine says she’s ready for her new role, aware of the change in mindset it will take to go from arguing the law to interpreting its application.
“I’ve been talking for 10 years,” she says. “Now it’s time to listen.”
Contact Nolan Peterson at [email protected]