BY MICHAEL WALTON, and ART BUKOWSKI
TRAVERSE CITY — Two local counties will have new probate judges.
Melanie Stanton rolled up a large lead over opponent Kirsten Keilitz in the Grand Traverse County probate race late Tuesday.
In Benzie County, John Mead led John Daugherty by roughly a 2-to-1 margin.
"I'm very pleased. I feel very privileged," Stanton said. "It's an honor, and it's an honor to be the first female judge in Grand Traverse County."
Mead said he's excited to serve Benzie residents.
"All I can do is thank the voters of Benzie County," he said. "I will not let them down."
Mead is a district court magistrate and a circuit court referee in Benzie and Manistee counties. Daugherty is Benzie's current prosecutor.
Daugherty will be replaced by Sara M. Mason, who was unopposed in Tuesday's election.
Keilitz has been a 13th Circuit Court referee since September 2009. Stanton is an attorney and a former nurse. If Stanton holds on to win, she will replace two-term incumbent David Stowe, who did not seek re-election to the judgeship.
Mead will replace Nancy Kida, who retires this year after 18 years on the bench.
Each winning probate judge will serve a six-year term.