Kennebec County voters elected Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell to a second term as probate judge.

Elizabeth “Libby” Mitchell

Mitchell, a Democrat, ran for a second term against Republican challenger Kevin Sullivan, who declined to be interviewed or provide any information in his bid for election.

With unofficial results in from all but Winthrop by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mitchell earned 35,064 votes to Sullivan’s 30,941.

Mitchell decisively won in the county’s four cities while Sullivan won in the county’s smaller but Republican-leaning towns.

Mitchell, 80, said as judge, she is now putting aside the election and politics, and is focusing on acting with integrity, fairness and compassion.

“The election will be far from anyone’s mind,” she said as the probate court continues its work.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal before the election, Mitchell said serving as probate judge is an extraordinary opportunity to help people when they’re at their most vulnerable.

“It’s a chance to use my law degree, my experience with family mediation and foreclosure mediation, as well as my community experience over the decades when people come to probate court,” the Vassalboro resident said.

The probate court is the voice for people who don’t have a voice, including children whose parents temporarily can’t take care of them or adults who need help caring for themselves and their finances. It also plays a role in wills and estates and oversees adoptions.

Two years ago, the state of Maine implemented a new probate code, change Mitchell and all the other probate judges have been learning.

Mitchell said probate court is very nimble; people don’t have to wait weeks to see a judge or get help from the court’s staff, particularly in the event of an emergency such as the appointment of a guardian. Since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, court hearings have been held using Zoom, an online conferencing platform. The court’s staff remains accessible to people, although they now have to make appointments to ensure social distancing can take place.

Mitchell said her lifetime of public service has demonstrated to people — particularly in probate court — her integrity, knowledge of the statutes and fairness.

Sullivan has also run for district attorney of Kennebec and Somerset counties as an independent in 2014. Four years ago, he ran as a Republican against Mitchell for probate judge’s seat.

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