BY BUDDY NEVINS
Judicial candidate Rhoda Sokoloff is so far under water she needs a scuba tank.
It would be bad if her mortgage problems hurt her chances in the upcoming election. That’s because Sokoloff has had an interesting life with some real experience.
Here is her story:
Sokoloff reported a negative net worth of $376,387 when she qualified to run this week against Circuit Court Judge Eileen O’Connor.
With an office near the courthouse, Sokolff had a $388,795 mortgage and another loan for law school of $112,882 at the end of last year. Her major asset was a southwest Fort Lauderdale home she values at $147,000.
Being underwater on a mortgage is not an unusual story for someone in south Florida today. That won’t stop it from being used against her in a whispering campaign, a favorite weapon of the courthouse crowd.
When you look past her financial disclosure you see the candidate.
Sokoloff, 57, is a Canadian native and the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Her parents were engaged, got separated by the Nazis and found each other after the war.
She moved to Florida in 1979 after a divorce. As a single mom, she raised two sons who are adults today.
Sokoloff worked as a legal aide in Canada and then here. Both she and her son fought seriously life-threatening illnesses along the way.
In the mid-1990s, she decided to go to Nova Southeastern Law School. She graduated in 1999.
Her specialty is family law (Her website is Browardfamilylaw.com.) That’s divorce, paternity, domestic violence and drafting prenups.
She says she has a thriving practice and appears regularly in court.
She earned $36,000 from her law practice last year. Is that another problem? Not if you know how a practice sometimes works.
The idea is to bring that income down for tax reasons by legally charging everything against it cars, telephones, books, etc. So the income might be low, but how many expenses is charged off to the business?
The financial form doesn’t say and Sokoloff isn’t talking.
“I’m giving up a lot by leaving private practice, is what she does say. “I’m probably losing money.
O’Conner earned $145,508 as a judge last year and had a net worth of $1,163,065 as of Dec. 31.
The Holocaust connection is something featured in her literature. It led me to ask her whether she is running because of her Jewish name.
“No. I always wanted to be a judge, even as a little girl, she says. “I have life experience and community involvement.
She is a mental health activist and a serves as a Guardian Ad Litem.
Public Defender Howard Finkelstein has criticized inexperienced lawyers who are running because their Jewish name will help them win. He has mentioned some attorneys by name, but not Sokoloff.
Maybe that’s because O’Conner is a former federal prosecutor. She has the reputation of leaning in favor of the prosecution. I believe Finkelstein prefers judges who are either down the middle or lean in the defense’s direction.
“I have never heard from Howard, Sokoloff says
Based on O’Conner’s rep and Sokoloff’s life experience, Howard just might decide to sit out this race.