By Julian Pecquet • DEMOCRAT
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Nina Ashenafi, a daughter of the late distinguished Ethiopian musicologist Dr Ashenafi Kebede, appeared to edge out an experienced public defender in the race for Leon County Judge Seat 5 Tuesday.
With 87.2 percent of precincts reporting, Nina Ashenafi Richardson and Sean Desmond were defeating Leonard Holton and were set to face each other in the November general election.
Ashenafi Richardson, a well-connected young lawyer who is married to State Representative Curtis Richardson, almost won out of hand, with 48.46 percent of the vote. Desmond had 29.35 percent, Holton 22.19 percent.
Stephanie Cimmino, a political science student at Tallahassee Community College, said she’d heard Richardson promoting Ashenafi Richardson’s candidacy and liked what she heard about her community service.
“She sounds like the best candidate,” Cimmino said. “And she has done a lot for our community.”
Early Tuesday night, Ashenafi-Richardson said she was hoping to do well in south side precincts that hadn’t reported.
“I feel really honored, surrounded by my friends and supporters,” she said. “I was honored to be in the this race with two attorneys who are worthy adversaries.”
Sean Desmond, a former assistant state attorney and founding partner of a private firm, could not be reached immediately Tuesday night.
Holton, 59, a full-time trial attorney for 24 years, ran as the voice of experience. Big Bend attorneys who responded to a recent Tallahassee Bar Association poll judged him to be the most qualified of the three candidates in terms of judicial ability and judicial temperament, but he couldn’t turn those positive assessments into enough votes to make it to the run-off.