Two Central Texas lawyers are vying for the 426th district court seat in the Tuesday Republican runoff election.

The winner of the runoff won’t face a Democratic challenger in the November general election. The judgeship handles many criminal cases in Bell County.

Local attorney Steve Duskie and Coryell County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Parker were the top vote-getters in the March 3 primary election.

Duskie garnered the most votes with 41 percent of the vote (8,845), while Parker received 36.4 percent of the vote (7,855).

Both candidates told the Telegram how it has been difficult to campaign during the era of COVID-19 with social distancing guidelines implemented.

“You can’t knock on people’s doors, so it’s had a pretty big impact in that regard,” Parker previously said. “Hopefully, folks have been reading the paper and continuing to learn about candidates that way.”

Duskie also said campaigning has been a challenge given the absence of social events.

“It’s been interesting because during everything that happened up until March ... there was so many social events that were going on,” he said. “There were a lot of active community events where you could go out and actually shake hands, greet people and knock on doors.”

Although Duskie has attended a few in-person meetings the last couple of months, he said attendance has been light.

Both candidates tout their experience practicing law as their primary selling points.

Duskie — who has practiced law in Bell County for more than 20 years — earned his law degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and received his bachelor’s degree from Marymount College of Kansas.

“I have been a partner in a successful law firm for over 18 years. During that time and longer, I have been doing the exact types of cases that the elected judge is going to hear,” he said. “So I feel like my experience as a partner in a successful firm, practicing in this county and doing these exact cases gives me a leg up on just about anybody.”

Parker earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and a law degree from Baylor University.

“I am the only candidate that’s board certified in criminal law and the only candidate that has worked as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney,” Parker said. “I also am the only candidate with significant family law experience. Therefore, I feel that I am the most qualified person to take over the (cases) that this court hears ... Which is primarily criminal law and family law.”

But Parker also highlighted how he feels technological services need to be improved within the county.

“Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a computer programmer and had significant experience in the field of technology,” he said. “I think it would benefit the court by having someone that is familiar with technology. These hearings and these matters need to be on YouTube, so the public can have access to it. And that’s something that Bell County has been lacking.”