LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A day after Danny Alvarez won the primary election for Jefferson County 9th District Court judge, he died suddenly Wednesday.

A married man with three children, Alvarez is being remembered as friends and colleagues wonder what might have been.

“We lose not only our champion but an example for possibilities of what our community could become,” said Sarah Nunez, assistant director of the University of Louisville Cultural Center.

According to his law practice website, Alvarez began his law career in 2000 as a public defender before starting his own private practice in 2003. Much of his work was focused on immigrants’ rights.

“I see him as a pioneer and someone that opened a lot of doors,” said longtime friend Karina Barillas. “I think his presence is leaving a huge vacuum.”

According to his Facebook page, Alvarez leaves a wife, Therese, and three children: Gabby, Ben and Bela.

“I think we're going to grieve for a long time, but I think that death is not the end,” Barillas said.

Alvarez finished first in the race on Tuesday with more than 30 percent of the vote. Tanesha Hickerson finished second. The two would have faced off in November for the seat. According to the Kentucky State Board of elections, because the results were not yet certified at the time of Alvarez’s death, only Hickerson will appear on the ballot.

There are no provisions that would allow a third place candidate to move up and be including on the ballot. Karen Faulkner finished behind Hickerson by 17 votes.

“The very first time I voted as a U.S. citizen for me, it was such a gift that the very first time when I opened the ballot, it was for another Latino,” Barillas said. “It was just such a gift for my life.”

Attorneys and former judges also expressed sadness over the passing of Alvarez.

“He would have served as a great judge,” said former judge David Holton. “He would have done a great job. He had all the qualities one needed to be a great judge. We've lost a good friend.”

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