A second candidate has announced plans to seek the Democratic nomination for Kennebec County probate judge, to fill a vacancy created by the death of James E. Mitchell, judge of probate in the county for 37 years.

Attorney Joseph M. O’Donnell, of Monmouth, who has practiced law in Augusta for 41 years, currently in the law partnership of Goodspeed & O’Donnell, announced Friday he plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the post.

He joins former Maine Senate President Libby Mitchell, the late James Mitchell‘s wife, in seeking the position.

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.

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 caucuses by Sept. 30. Kennebec County’s eligible political parties are the Democratic, Republican, Green Independent and Libertarian parties.

A special election will be held Nov. 8 to fill the position.


O’Donnell, according to his resume, was appointed in 1981 by Gov. Joseph Brennan as public administrator for Kennebec County, a position he still holds, having been reappointed to it seven times by five different governors. Duties of the position include administering the estates of people who die in the county without a will or known heirs.

O’Donnell said he has worked extensively in the probate court, with most of his cases in Kennebec County though he has also appeared in every county in the state. His probate cases have included wills, adoptions, guardianships and conservatorships.

Each of Maine’s 16 counties has a judge of probate, a part-time, partisan post that is popularly elected every four years, with an annual salary of $33,234.

James Mitchell was in the middle of his term when he died of multiple organ failure Sept. 9.

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.


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 Augusta City Center at 16 Cony St.

Chris Lyons, chairman of the state Libertarian Party, said they plan to announce a decision Tuesday.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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