ELKHART — Only 392 votes split the top two candidates in the race for Superior Court 3 judge in the primary election Tuesday, May 6, with Teresa Cataldo narrowly defeating David Francisco.
Cataldo received 4,129 votes to Francisco's 3,737. Votes for Andrew Hicks and Fay Schwartz were of 2,794 and 2,056, respectively.
For now, Cataldo will run uncontested in the general election Nov. 4.
At Antonio's Restaurant in Elkhart, Cataldo held a watch party with his friends, family and other candidates. As the last few numbers trickled in, showing Cataldo ahead by almost 400 votes, Francisco called Cataldo to concede the election.
Cataldo thanked her family, including her husband, Mark Hartman, and her friends for all the support she received throughout the race.
She also said she was impressed by the other candidates who kept it a clean, professional race.
Hartman yelled and cheered from a distance, overcome with emotion as the results came in.
"(Cataldo) is the best candidate for this position," he said. "Her experience and credentials back it up."
At Cook's Pizza in Wakarusa, David Francisco gathered with friends, family and colleagues from the Elkhart County Prosecutor's office.
Upon receiving the last few results, he hugged his family and called Cataldo to congratulate her and wish her success in the general election. Francisco also said he wanted to congratulate the team "for running excellent campaigns."
Francisco said running in the Superior Court 3 judge race meant he got to meet many in the community.
"This is a great place. I often deal with the dark side, but in the last four months I've seen nothing but enthusiasm, energy and positive outlooks," he said. "I've really learned a lot about myself and the community."
Cataldo, Schwartz, Hicks and Francisco filed for the race early in the year, and in the last few weeks, yard signs and billboards started popping up throughout the county.
Elkhart Superior Court 3, one of six superior courts in Elkhart County, deals with child victim cases with the exception of murder. The court also deals with a variety of civil cases.
Superior Court 3 Judge George Biddlecome, announced early in the year that he was not seeking re-election this year. Biddlecome is retiring at the end of the year, after serving on the bench for 17 years.
The court handled 2,141 cases in 2012, of which 1,564 were civil cases and 548 were criminal cases.
Other judge primary races this year included the ones for Superior Court 1, Superior Court 4 and Superior Court 5. The three republican candidates, Evan Roberts, Gretchen Lund and Charles Wicks, ran uncontested.