For more than a dozen years, Adams County Circuit Judge Frederick Schurger sat on the bench.
But in January, he will be replaced by 40-year-old Chad Kukelhan, a local attorney who upset the incumbent judge 6,744 votes to 6,116, according to unofficial Adams County results.
About 63 percent of the countys 25,229 registered voters turned out, with 16,002 casting ballots.
According to the preliminary results, 3,333 voters pulled a straight Republican Party ticket.
Schurger, 66, a Democrat, was first appointed to the bench in August 1999 and re-elected twice.
He garnered the most votes in the county seat of Decatur.
But Kukelhan, the countys chief deputy public defender, pulled in votes throughout the more rural areas of the county – winning precincts such as Hartford Township 188 votes to 113, and pushing through in Root Township, 693 votes to 676.
During the campaign, Schurger touted his years of experience in handling the lions share of the countys divorce cases, as well as high-level felonies, estates and mental health hearings.
He also was proud of his work improving the physical features of the Circuit Courtroom and courthouse – such as reclaiming space in the front of the courtroom, and adding a hearing room.
In a written statement from Kukelhan, the challenger said his top priorities, if elected, are to maintain court staff and make sure that perception and reality reflect that he is the leader of the court.
Over the last four years, I have had the opportunity to work with the Adams Circuit Court staff, attorneys, probation department, jail personnel, and citizens before the court, Kukelhan wrote.
My personality and diligence will work to assure that all of these people are working together to make for the best environment for justice to be served.
Kukelhan said the biggest challenge facing the Circuit Court, as well as Adams County, is maintaining a budget, that can be justified.
Across our nation, resources are scarce and yet services are still needed. Our county is very similar to the nation at large; we have fewer resources and yet we still need the services of the court. It will be my job and challenge to manage the Circuit Courts budget under these circumstances, and more importantly, to utilize Adams Countys resources wisely and conservatively, Kukelhan wrote.
Messages seeking comment from both candidates were not returned Tuesday evening.