Republican Kevin Kusta wins Morgan district judge seat
By Michael Wetzel
For the Enquirer
Republican Kevin Kusta, a first-time political candidate, has defeated Democratic opponent Paul Holland for the Morgan County District Judge Place 3 vacancy.
Incumbent judge Charles Langham aged out of the position because state law doesn’t allow judges who have reached their 70th birthday to seek reelection.
Kusta collected 39,590 votes, or 76 percent, Tuesday to Holland’s 12,553 votes with all but provisional ballots counted.
“I want to protect the kids that come through the court system,” said Kusta, 42. “I will treat everyone fair so they can look forward to having their chance in court.”
Kusta said for the past 16 years, “the majority of my practice is in district court.”
“I can start off day one and handle every type of case a district judge is going to end up hearing,” said Kusta, who handles a variety of juvenile court matters.
He said he began running for the judgeship in April 2019. He battled three other candidates in the March 3 primary and then outlasted Decatur municipal prosecutor Emily Baggett in the July 14 runoff. Baggett was the top vote-getter in the primary.
“I kept working really hard, knocking on doors and meeting people. I did it even during this COVID,” Kusta said. “I went all over Morgan County campaigning. I found places in the county I didn’t know existed.
“I want to thank my family, friends and coworkers for their support and hard work. I believe the huge turnout also helped me a lot.”
Kusta and Holland thanked each other for running clean races.
“I believe 100 percent that Kevin will do a good job as judge,” Holland said. “I have known him for many years and have nothing but respect for him. He’ll give everyone in the courtroom a fair shake. That is the job of a good judge.”
Kusta practices law with the same Decatur firm that hired him in 2004, Ernest W. Ball & Associates, and in 2017 he became a partner of the firm, now Ball & Kusta.
Morgan County District Court includes a civil division for claims up to $20,000, like debt collections and evictions, when a jury is not requested; a criminal division for misdemeanor cases, felony cases through preliminary hearings, and traffic cases; and a family division for child support, juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency cases.
Kusta will begin a six-year term Jan. 18. Starting salary for district judges is $125,018.