Circuit court judge race ends in runoff

Republican candidates Patrick Kennedy and Phillip Bahakel will face each other in a runoff on July 17 for the office of Shelby County Circuit Court Judge.

The circuit court judge race was highly contested with five candidates vying for the Republican nomination during the primary election on Tuesday, June 5. But in the end, it came down to two candidates, Kennedy and Bahakel.

With 44 of 45 precincts reporting, Kennedy has 39.27 percent of the votes, or 9,505 votes, and Bahakel has 19.07 percent of the votes, or 4,615 votes.

Nicole Saia came in third with 16.79 percent of the votes, or 4,964 votes, then came Julie Palmer with 16.20 percent, or 3,921 votes. Patrick Franklin rounded out the race with 2,099 votes, or 8.67 percent.

In the coming weeks, Kennedy and Bahakel will be hard at work trying get their messages out to the masses. At his campaign party, Kennedy said he’s prepared to implement a plan to win the runoff.

“We have to decompress from this round and then we will regroup and get a strategy in place for the runoff,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to get everyone to come back out and just do everything we did before. There hasn’t been much in my life that I haven’t had to work hard for and go the extra mile to get.”

Bahakel said his plan is to talk to as many people as he can and go to as many events as he can in an effort to get to know the Shelby County community.

Bahakel, who began practicing law in 1981, said the role of a judge is to listen to the facts and follow the law. Although he is a Republican, Bahakel said that judges don’t make decisions based on politics.

“You’re not supposed to legislate from the bench,” he said.

Bahakel has also comes with previous judicial experience. He served as a judge in Jefferson County for six years.

“As a judge, I pride myself on being respectful to all parties and being unbiased,” he said. “I make rulings as quickly as possible so that people can have an ending to their legal matter. In Jefferson County, I entered decisions within 30 days of the hearing and I would do the same if elected in Shelby County.”

Kennedy opened his own law practice in 2001, a general practice with an emphasis on juvenile law, criminal law, family law and civil law. He has been under contract with Administrative Office of Courts since 2004 to handle juvenile law matter both delinquent and dependency and has worked in several municipal courts in Shelby County to include filling in as a prosecutor on occasion.

Since 2009, Patrick has assisted as guardian ad litem in domestic relations Circuit Court with the “born out of wedlock” “custody in controversy” dockets.

If elected, Kennedy said he will uphold the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions and serve with honesty and fairness.

“I have the temperament and knowledge to administer the law in a fair and equitable way,” he said. “The courtroom can be an emotional place, and I believe I have this temperament to which when those emotions come out we can bring them back together and handle the business of the court in a respectful, professional manner.”

The winner of the July 17 runoff will not face Democratic opposition in the November general election.