BY ALEX PIAZZA
TRAVERSE CITY — A longtime Leland attorney appears to have won a race for a Leelanau County judgeship that's been vacant for 16 months.
Larry Nelson held a 400-vote lead over opponent Marian Kromkowski late Tuesday in the race for Leelanau County probate judge. Leelanau officials hadn't finalized votes in one township — a Kromkowski stronghold — as of midnight.
Nelson would fill a vacancy left after the July 2009 death of Judge Joseph Deegan. Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration interviewed potential replacements for Deegan, but did not appoint a successor.
"The citizens are ready to have someone in there full time," Nelson said. "Things will be scheduled faster, and their needs will be met quicker. I think the county will be ready for that."
Steve Schlueter voted for Nelson on Tuesday in Suttons Bay Township.
"Nothing impressed me with Kromkowski," Schlueter said. "That's all we had to choose from. There should be people up there who can make your head spin, but I just didn't see that this year."
Kromkowski said she ran a positive campaign and commended her opponent for doing the same.
"I feel very positive about the campaign I ran," Kromkowski said.
Nelson has been in private practice since 1981. Before that he served a term as Leelanau County prosecutor. He would serve a partial two-year term to complete Deegan's term. Candidates for a six-year term will be on the ballot in November 2012.