Gael Wood

Longtime Franklin County Judge Gael Wood is one step closer to becoming a municipal judge.

Wood beat A. David Arand in Tuesday’s primary election to win the Republican nomination for the position.

Wood will now face off against Democrat Bill Stahlhuth in the November election.

With over 18,000 votes cast in the primary, Wood was able to pick up 57 percent to defeat Arand. According to the unofficial results, Wood had 10,549 votes against 7,950 votes for Arand.

Stahlhuth ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. He garnered all 6,270 votes cast for the judge position.

Wood, 70, said he was happy to win the primary.

“I was pleased and I’m honored that the voters have again placed their trust in me,” he said.

The Franklin County Municipal Court began hearing cases in 2012 to expedite resolution of local traffic and zoning violation cases.

The current judge, Scott Fulford, did not run to stay on the bench. Fulford became the judge after a series of moves that began when Wood retired as a judge.

Wood, a Washington resident, was a presiding circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit from 2001-17. He served as a judge on special assignment with the Missouri Supreme Court, and Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District.

The state requires circuit court judges to retire at age 70, something Wood was forced to do in 2017. The rule does not apply to municipal court judges.

Wood stepped down for the circuit and was replaced by Judge Craig Hellmann, who had been the county municipal court judge.

Fulford was named the municipal court judge in December 2017 to replace Hellmann.

Wood previously served as a municipal court judge in Washington (1982-84) and Owensville (1999).

Wood said he’s already been meeting with Fulford to talk about how the court is run. Now that he’s won the primary, he said he will spend more time with Fulford and the court.

His goal, if elected in November, is to ensure a “smooth transition.”

Wood said he’s excited about the chance to continue being a judge. After his retirement, he’s worked as a senior judge, but the municipal court opening gives him a chance to serve full time.

“It’s what I am. It’s who I am,” he said.

Wood said his opponent in the primary, Arand, is a “fine man and a good judge.”