Eads, Edmondson and Burgess

Andy Eads, right, addresses supporters during a Republican election night watch party Tuesday at the Dive Bar. Eads won the race for Denton County judge, beating out Diana Leggett. At left is Dianne Edmondson, who won her race for Precinct 4 commissioner, the seat Eads is vacating; between them is Michael Burgess, who was re-elected to his U.S. House District 26 seat.

Republican Andy Eads will be the next Denton County judge, a victory for conservatives as longtime Republican Judge Mary Horn makes her exit after nearly two decades in office.

Horn’s announcement that she would not seek re-election to the seat brought out a Democratic challenger for the first time in recent memory.

“The Denton County voters demonstrated today that they appreciate conservative local government, and they have acknowledged the work of the Commissioners Court from the ... years I’ve been on it,” Eads said Tuesday night. “I’m excited about representing the whole, entire county. I want to be a county judge for everybody.”

About 121,336 more people voted early in the county judge race this cycle than cast a ballot for county judge in the entire 2014 general election. With about 83 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, Eads had a commanding lead of 158,558 votes over Democrat Diana Leggett’s 117,043 votes.

The county’s population has swelled by tens of thousands of people since Horn first won the seat in 2002. With more than a dozen major construction projects facing county leaders and miles of roads that people say need revamping, voters had the choice of either an establishment Republican or an outsider Democrat who says the county should rethink its spending priorities.

Eads has been the Precinct 4 commissioner since 2007, making him a lead architect of the county’s current form. With ties to the real estate industry, Eads says he has the network to continue building Denton County. Leggett cautioned voters of Eads’ career in local politics; she said her outside perspective is what taxpayers need in a period of rapid growth.

“I’m absolutely gleeful that Denton County came out that much for me,” Leggett said late Tuesday. “I will continue to be routinely involved with what goes on in the county, in particular the Commissioners Court. Denton County is so important to me.”

In the spring primary election, Republican support for Eads outpaced Democratic turnout in Leggett’s race, in which she faced Denton County NAACP President Willie Hudspeth. About 35,207 people voted for Eads, who ran unopposed, and Leggett took in 18,567 votes from Democrats. Another 6,256 more went to Hudspeth.

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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