LORI GOODWIN - JEFFERSON COUNTY FAMILY COURT JUDGE.jpg

Photo taken from Lori Goodwin's official election website. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- A Louisville attorney who has long practiced in Jefferson family court will now preside over cases after easily winning the lone local bench seat up for grabs Tuesday.

Lori Goodwin, who worked for many years serving low-income citizens in the family law unit at the Legal Aid Society, doubled the vote of her two challengers in the race for Family Court judge in the 30th Judicial District.

Family court judges handle issues involving adoption, child support, domestic violence, divorce and juvenile status offenses.

This was a special election — the only judicial race on the ballot — to fill the remaining two years after Judge Debora Deweese retired in 2019.

Goodwin will replace Ellie Kerstetter, who in January was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear to fill Deweese’s seat until the election.

Kerstetter was Kentucky’s first Latina judge.

As of 10 p.m., Goodwin had about 130,000 votes compared to 67,000 for Kerstetter and 61,000 for Daren Neel.

Goodwin, a graduate of the University of Louisville and Marquette University Law School, fared well in a judicial poll by the Louisville Bar Association, with 81% of the attorneys finding her qualified or highly qualified.

However, Goodwin was the most unknown of the candidates, according to the poll results.

Neel, a prosecutor with the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, received the highest rating in the bar poll, with 91% of the attorneys who participated finding him qualified or highly qualified.

Kerstetter was rated qualified or highly qualified by 71% of the attorneys who participated. But she was also rated the most “unqualified," at 29%.

This was the second time Goodwin ran for a family court seat, as she lost in 2018 to Lauren Adams Ogden.

Goodwin spent the least amount of money on the election — about $5,000 — according to the most recent information on the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance website.

Neel spent about $15,000 and Kerstetter spent the most, at about $30,000.

Jefferson County has 10 family court judges. They serve eight-year terms.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.