AUGUSTA — Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell will be the second Mitchell in a row to sit as probate judge in Kennebec County.

Unofficial results from all 30 municipalities in the county show Mitchell, a Democrat from Vassalboro, with 32,815 votes, giving her a comfortable lead over the Republican candidate, Gardiner resident Kevin Sullivan, who received 23,786 votes without actively campaigning.

Clarence H. “Skip” Spurling, running on the Libertarian ticket, garnered 6,856 votes.

Results of the three-candidate race to become Kennebec County judge of probate came in slowly because the all the paper ballots had to be hand-counted.

Mitchell, 76, sought to succeed her late husband, James Mitchell, in the part-time post he had held for 37 years. Mitchell died in September. He was 74.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored by this opportunity,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “It is a very humbling experience because I know what a fantastic judge of probate Jim Mitchell was, and every single day I sit on that bench I am going to be trying to live up to his high standards of compassion and justice.”

She served for more than 30 years in the Legislature, rising to the posts of House speaker and Senate president, and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010.

Mitchell said that she intends to spend as much time as possible sitting in and watching other probate courts in Maine to prepare for her new role, which begins in January. She also intends to continue practicing both as an attorney and as a mediator.

She attributed part of her success to the large voter turnout and the numerous other issues on the ballot, and said she was not surprised to see Sullivan’s totals even without his active participation.

“Even though this judgeship is nonpartisan, he had an “R” beside his name and I had an “D,” she said, adding, “I’m sure he’s also well respected in the legal community.”

Mitchell also said her variety of experiences, including community service, which include serving on the school board, as chairwoman of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, director of the Maine Housing Authority and other posts, might have appealed to voters.

Probate courts handle disputed estates of deceased people, adoptions, guardianships and conservatorships of disabled adults, and custody of children whose parents can’t care for them in cases that don’t go through the district court child protective system. Probate judges are bound by the rules of judicial ethics and judicial responsibility, and their decisions can be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Mitchell had the nomination of the county’s Democratic Party.

Mitchell earned admission to the Maine Bar a decade ago and is affiliated with the firm of Mitchell and Davis in Augusta. She said her experience as a mediator and a guardian ad litem – appointed to represent the best interests of children in court – will serve her well as judge of probate.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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Twitter: @betadams