Based on the numbers it was a huge upset.

Based on the way things go in local politics some times, it was just another election statement based on what the people wanted.

Despite a significant Democratic plurality edge in Carbon County (19,404 persons, or 51 percent, compared to 13,983 registered Republicans, 36.8 percent), Republican Steven R. Serfass of Palmerton pulled off a huge victory yesterday, in an historic race for a third Carbon County judge on the Court of Common Pleas.

He defeated Carole Walbert, the Democratic candidate, who is a native of Jim Thorpe.

The new position carries a term of 10 years.

Voters and political experts will read a lot into Serfass' victory. Was his triumph a mandate against the Democratic party? Or, was it just that he was the more popular candidate, sweeping to a nearly 2,600 vote advantage.

One thing is certain. Both candidates fought a hard, expensive battle to capture the seat. And it was a clean fight, and both brought with them exceptional credentials that would enable them to carry on the ever-growing duties of a third judge in a county whose crime rate is rising with the expanded population.

Both candidates promised to be firm and fair in their dealings on the bench, and ensured that they would protect the community interests. Thanks to his victory, Serfass will get the opportunity to fulfill that promise.

Walbert campaigned on her long-time courtroom experience. Serfass focused on his broad-based general practice that he said prepares him well for the challenges of the position. Both brought strong family values to the table, but after all the campaigning was over, voters felt Serfass was the right person for the job.

We wish him the best in succeeding with his new and demanding responsibilities. The new 10 years won't be easy. But we hope they will be rewarding for the new judge.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com