Two races for seats on the 16th Judicial District Court bench will remain unresolved until a runoff election can be held next month, according to early returns from Tuesday night.

In the Division F race, which pitted New Iberia attorney Natalie Broussard, 16th JDC Assistant District Attorney Tony Saleme and St. Martinville attorney Keith Thibodeaux in a three-way race, Broussard and Saleme came out holding on to the wishbone in a fairly close race. Broussard was leading with 140 of 141 precincts reporting with 38 percent of the vote to Saleme’s 32 percent and Thibodeaux’s 30 percent showing.

“We have worked very hard,” Broussard said from her celebration party Tuesday night. “I’m very proud of my campaign workers and the support from volunteers. We’re ready to finish this strong.”

In the Division H race, Jeanerette Legal Counsel and 15th JDC Assistant District Attorney Roger P. Hamilton came close to winning the race outright, eliminating the need for a runoff. He polled 45 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for New Iberia attorney “Alicia” Butler and 22 percent for New Iberia attorney Thailund “Tai” Porter-Green.

“We were almost there, but we couldn’t cross the finish line,” Hamilton said from his gathering at the old Post Office building in downtown St. Martinville. “I’m feeling good about the run off. As of yesterday, we still had money in the campaign, we are still receiving funds from the committee, and we still have donors contributing to the campaign. People still believe I’m the person that they want to see as their judge.”

The candidates in the two run off races — Broussard and Saleme in Division F and Hamilton and Butler in Division H — will face each other again at the polls on Dec. 5.

Dwayne Fatherree is the community editor for The Daily Iberian. He can be reached at dwayne.fatherree@daily-iberian.com.

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