Maria Oesterreicher made history Tuesday, becoming the first female Circuit Court judge in Carroll County history, defeating sitting Judge Richard Titus.
Oesterreicher received 31,744 votes, approximately 53 percent, to top Titus, who was appointed to the bench in 2016. Titus received 27,853 votes, or 46.6 percent.
“I'm so grateful to the voters of Carroll County for their faith in me and their confidence that one vote can make a difference. Together, we made history tonight. I look forward to serving the citizens of Carroll County as the first female Circuit Court Judge in our county's history,” Oesterreicher said in a statement sent by email.
Oesterreicher served as senior assistant state’s attorney in the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office for 14 years and is now employed by the Maryland Department of Human Services.
Titus said in a statement, “While I am disappointed at the outcome, the voters have spoken and I respect the democratic process. I have congratulated Judge-Elect Oesterreicher and wish her the best during her elected term of office. After a long campaign, during which I still handled my full Court Docket, I am going to take some time with my family to consider my future options. Thanks to all who supported me along the way.”
Circuit Court judges preside over civil and criminal cases. These tend to be more serious than those heard in the District Court. Appeals to cases first heard in the District Court also occur here.
Judah Lowe, 14, electioneered for Oesterreicher, his aunt, at Taneytown Elementary School.
"There hasn't been a female Circuit Court judge in 100 years I think. She's a Republican and she is a very great candidate," he said.
Westminster resident Lynn Brewer came out to the polls earlier in the day to support Titus.
Brewer, a Republican, works for the Circuit Court and said the judge’s race was most important to her in this election.
"Titus, the sitting judge, deserves to stay there,” she said.
In Maryland’s circuit courts, when a judge is appointed by the governor, they serve until the next statewide election that occurs at least one year after appointment. They must then stand for election to retain the seat.
Titus was appointed to the bench by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2016 following Judge Michael Galloway’s retirement.
Heather DeWees, Republican, of Manchester, won the race for clerk of the Circuit Court with more than 66 percent of the vote, topping Democrat Terrie Connolly.
"I'm just really excited to have the opportunity to represent Carroll County and go into the Clerk's Office office and be a part of the judiciary," she said when reached by phone Tuesday evening.
Her goal is to reach out to the community as the clerk and spread awareness about what the clerk's office can do for the community on a day-to-day basis.
"In four years, I hope everybody knows what I do, that’s my goal," she said.
As a secondary education teacher and coach, she said, "In some ways I'm sad about leaving education. … I'm proud to have been a teacher, proud to have served the kids in our county and community, and now I’m proud to serve the entire community." She hopes to continue serving as a coach for Manchester Valley.
Prior to the race, "I think mostly I was prepared either way. I was obviously hoping to win, and preparing if I didn't win. In reality that’s all you can do," she said.
The clerk files and processes records pertaining to civil, criminal and juvenile court cases in Carroll County’s Circuit Court. The clerk also maintains land records and issues marriage and business licenses.
Republican incumbents Margaret "Peggy" Bair and Charles M. Coles Jr. along with Republican Donald Sealing were the top three vote-getters for Judge of the Orphans’ Court, topping their three Democratic opponents. Sealing has previously served as Clerk of the Circuit Court. The Orphans’ Court oversees the settlement of estates and wills.
Jim DeWees, Republican, won an uncontested race for Carroll County Sheriff with 57,409 votes. He was elected in 2014.
Brian DeLeonardo, Republican, retained his role as Carroll County State’s Attorney in an uncontested race with 57,914 votes. He was elected in 2014.
Paul Zimmermann, Republican, will continue as Carroll County Register of Wills following an uncontested race and 57,924 votes. He has been in the role for the past 16 years.