Democrat Judy Cates defeated Republican Stephen McGlynn in the race for the seat on the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.
Cates took 281,228 votes -- or 52 percent of the ballots -- to edge McGlynn with 259,662 votes and 48 percent of the ballots, according to complete but unofficial results of Tuesday's election.
The two were running for the seat vacated by retiring Appellate Court Judge James Donovan.
"I would like to thank the voters," Cates said Wednesday. "I will serve the voters of Southern Illinois with the utmost fairness and integrity because they deserve it."
In St. Clair County, Cates received 54,427 votes, or 54 percent, while McGlynn received 46,173, or 46 percent of the votes. In Madison County, McGlynn received 52,536 votes, or 45 percent, while Cates received 63,215 votes or 55 percent. In Jackson County, Cates received 12,147 votes, 62 percent, to McGlynn's 7,488 votes, 38 percent.
"I would like to thank everyone who supported me. This has been a long journey. I have traveled throughout Southern Illinois meeting wonderful people and gaining the support of tremendous organizations, all of whom have volunteered their time and effort to make this victory possible," Cates said.
"To all of these amazing volunteers, I say 'Thank you,' as I could not have acheived this goal without you. As your appellate court judge, I will strive to make the people proud that they have elected me, and be fair to all parties who seek justice in the court."
McGlynn could not be reached for comment.
The race was too close to call late Tuesday night.
Cates, a Swansea lawyer and a Democrat, ran for the seat on the appellate bench four years ago, but lost out to James Wexstten in the primary.
McGlynn, a Republican, was appointed to the appellate court in 2005, but lost his bid for the appellate seat in 2006 when he was beaten in the general election by Democrat Bruce Stewart. He currently serves as a St. Clair County Circuit Judge after an appointment by Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier.
The race has been contentious with McGlynn's campaign filing three ethics complaints to the Illinois Bar Association's Election Campaign Tone and Conduct. A complaint was filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections by the Cates campaign against McGlynn for failing to disclose campaign contributions. That complaint was dismissed.