Russellville attorney Joe Hendricks Jr. will be sworn in as the next judge in the 7th Judicial Circuit after winning a contested election Tuesday.

A Logan County native whose career includes a stint as an elected prosecutor in Georgia, Hendricks bested Logan County Attorney Joe Ross at the polls in the nonpartisan race.

“Everybody made their case to the voters and the voters made a decision, and I’m just grateful and humbled that they entrusted me with the position,” Hendricks said.

The 7th Circuit judge oversees felony criminal cases and civil complaints in Logan and Todd counties.

Altogether, Hendricks received 4,932 votes in both counties compared to 4,356 for Ross, according to information on the Kentucky secretary of state’s website.

By a count of 3,875 to 2,916, voters in Logan County provided Hendricks with a large enough margin of victory to overcome a second-place finish to Ross at the polls in Todd County.

When he takes office, Hendricks said he will attempt to reestablish the circuit’s dormant drug program, which stopped operating several years ago.

“I think everybody is observing the consequences of a worsening drug problem and they want something done to make things better,” Hendricks said. “I’ve already begun reaching out to people for assistance in trying to get our drug court program rebooted.”

Hendricks has operated a law practice since returning to his native Logan County in 2013, handling a caseload that includes criminal defense, divorce and child custody matters among other responsibilities.

He has also been the attorney for the East Logan Water District, South Logan Water Association and the Logan County chapter of the Fuller Center for Housing and sits on the board of directors of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce.

Hendricks’ law career began in Georgia after he completed his undergraduate studies at Berry College there and earned his law degree in 1995 from Georgia State University.

After an internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Georgia, he worked as an assistant district attorney in the three-county Appalachian Circuit of Georgia and was elected in 2004 to chief prosecuting attorney for that circuit.

In that capacity, Hendricks was lead counsel on more than 50 jury trials, including two death penalty murder cases.

Hendricks will succeed Tyler Gill as circuit judge. Gill retired in July after 24 years on the bench.

Jill Clark has been serving as acting circuit judge in Gill’s place.

Hendricks will serve out the remainder of Gill’s unexpired eight-year term.

– Follow courts reporter Justin Story on Twitter @jstorydailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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