Former Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell announced Monday she intends to put her name forward as a candidate for Kennebec County probate judge, a position held most recently by her late husband, Jim.

James E. Mitchell, judge of probate for 37 years in Kennebec County, died Sept. 9 of multiple organ failure. He was last in court Aug. 29 and was hospitalized three days later.

Because the vacancy occurred so close to the November election, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office has determined that eligible political parties may each nominate one candidate to appear on the ballot through separate county-wide caucuses by Sept. 30. Kennebec County’s eligible political parties are the Democratic, Republican, Green Independent and Libertarian parties.

Each of Maine’s 16 counties has a judge of probate, a part-time, partisan post that is popularly elected every four years. Mitchell was in the middle of his term.

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 do not go through the district court child protective system.

To be considered, any candidate must be an attorney admitted to the Maine bar.

Because it is an elected position, a special election will be held Nov. 8 to fill the position.

Libby Mitchell, a practicing lawyer for 10 years, announced Monday she is seeking the Democratic nomination.

“It is with a mixture of grief and honor that I think this could be the right decision,” she said in a press release. “My first thoughts were the usual — not qualified. I know that no one could ever fill Jim’s shoes, but at least I could keep them shined.”

Mitchell is a former Maine Senate president, House speaker and 2010 gubernatorial candidate.

The Kennebec County Democratic Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Kennebec County building, 125 State St., to choose its nominee. Committee Chairwoman Rita Moran said all those interested in the position should email a short resume and letter of intent to [email protected] Deadline for receipt of all materials is Saturday, Sept. 24th. Applicants for the position must be residents of Kennebec County and registered Democrats.

Gil Harris, of the Maine Green Independent Party, said requests have been sent out to party members to see whether any member is interested in pursuing nomination. No caucus has been scheduled.

Emily Roderick, chairwoman of the Kennebec County Republican Party, said her party committee will hold a caucus at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Lecture Room at the Augusta City Center at 16 Cony St.

Chris Lyons, chairman of the state Libertarian Party, said Monday that his party has put out a call for candidates.

“It’s a matter of finding the right candidate, not just any candidate,” Lyons said. Party members are expected to decide by its Sept. 28 executive committee meeting.

The position pays $33,234 annually.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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