Ron Gower/TIMES NEWS Attorney Steven R. Serfass, and his wife, attorney Jenny Cheng, relax at their Palmerton residence after hearing election results last evening. Serfass won an election to serve in the newly-created position of Carbon County's third judge.
Attorney Steven R. Serfass, 40, of Palmerton, became one of the youngest judges ever elected in Carbon County Tuesday.
Serfass soundly defeated attorney Carole Wildoner-Walbert of Jim Thorpe by more than 2,500 votes. He will fill a newly-created position, serving a 10-year term as Carbon's third judge.
The other jurists are President Judge Roger Nanovic II and Judge David Addy.
The final unofficial tally had Serfass gathering an unofficial total of 7,740 votes while Wildoner-Walbert received 5,145 votes.
"I congratulate attorney Walbert on a hard-fought campaign," said Serfass last night following the election.
Wildoner-Walbert declined to comment.
Serfass, during a victory celebration at his residence, commented, "I want to thank everyone who contributed their time and talents to make this a successful campaign, including family and friends. So many people have contributed to make this night possible."
"I'm very grateful to the voters of this county and I'm humbled by the results," he added. "I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working for the people of Carbon County."
Judge Nanovic commented, "Dave (Addy) and I are welcoming the addition of the third judge to the bench."
He said the new judge is needed, with the request made to the state legislature about 1 1/2 years ago.
"I think the numbers show our caseload increased dramatically," he said.
Judge Addy said Speaker of the House of Representatives Keith McCall was "instrumental" in winning approval for the third judge.
According to Judge Nanovic, the intent with the third judge is to disperse the duties among the three judges equally. Currently the duties are divided between he and Judge Addy.
Serfass has been a lawyer for 14 years. He and his wife, attorney Jenny Cheng, own the Serfass & Cheng Law Office in Palmerton. Cheng said she will continue to operate that law firm.
Wildoner-Walbert and Serfass have become common opponents in judicial elections.
In 1995, upon the retirement of Judge Richard Webb, there was a three-way battle for the vacant seat that was waged by Serfass, Wildoner-Walbert, and Addy. Addy was elected by both parties in the Primary Election in 1995.
When the state approved a third judge in Carbon County, Wildoner-Walbert, Serfass, and attorney Gregory Mousseau of Jim Thorpe all cross-filed in the May 2009 primary. Wildoner-Walbert was selected by Democrats to run in the November election, while Republicans selected Serfass.
The victory by Serfass surprised many political observers, considering Democrats outnumber Republicans in Carbon County. There are 19,404 eligible Democratic voters in Carbon compared to 13,983 Republicans registered.
The county Democratic party campaigned hard for Wildoner-Walbert, with McCall appearing in TV and newspaper ads endorsing her.
Wildoner-Walbert cited the "inexperience" of Serfass in her campaign efforts.
Cheng commented of her husband, "I'm really proud of him running such a clean and positive campaign."
Serfass and Cheng met in law school at Temple University. They have been married for 13 years. They have two children, Ben, 8, and Hannah, 4.
He is a lifelong resident of Carbon County, and the son of Dennis and Doris Serfass of Parryville.
Wildoner-Walbert also has lived in Carbon County all her life. She and her husband, Benjamin L. Walbert III, have two sons, Benjamin, 20, and Alex, 19. She is the daughter of Charles and Joan Wildoner of Jim Thorpe.