Elgin Democrat John G. Dalton had run for a judge's seat before in Kane County, losing a 2010 election to former Kane County State's Attorney (and current judge) David Akemann.
But Tuesday was a different story, as voters chose Dalton, 51, over Republican and former Elgin City Council member and current Judge John Walters.
According to unofficial results, Dalton scored 14,813 votes, or 56.3 percent, compared to 12,813 for Walters to claim a seat in the 16th Judicial Circuit.
Dalton, who also won a seat on the Elgin Community College board of trustees last year, said name recognition from those two races and door-to-door campaigning contributed to his victory.
"Old stuff like knocking on doors still matters," Dalton said Thursday. "I'm overwhelmed by the trust and confidence the voters have placed in me. It's a dream come true for me and I take the obligation very, very seriously. I'm going to work the rest of my life to repay that debt and to be a good judge."
The Illinois Supreme Court in late 2011 appointed Walters to the seat and he fended off Elgin attorney John Hurlbut in the spring 2012 primary.
But Walters scored poorly on an attorney poll taken by the Illinois State Bar Association and he was not recommended. There were not enough responses about Dalton in the poll to form a usable sample.
It also helped that the judge's seat has an Elgin-based constituency and was not a countywide race.
Dalton thanked fellow Democrats -- including 22nd District State Sen. Mike Noland and Kane County Board member Cristina Castro -- for their support. Dalton, who has practiced law since 1987, also credited one of his mentors, the late Chicago attorney Jack Barry, for helping him gain experience with corporate, bankruptcy, personal injury laws.
Dalton also said it is not enough for judges simply to have knowledge of the law. They must listen, have an innate sense of fairness and treat all people with respect.
By law, Dalton must resign from his ECC seat, which has a six-year term.
"I wish I could do both," he said.
Dalton will be sworn in Dec. 3. Until then, he's going to be a busy man, as a Thursday morning post on his Facebook page indicates.
"Working on a major life transition today. Closing my legal practice and moving clients to new counsel. Judges are not allowed to practice law. I have two court appearances next week. Those will be my last as an attorney. After that, the next time I enter a courtroom everyone will rise," Dalton wrote.