A former captain in the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office won the office’s top job Saturday, beating a Sheriff’s Office captain in a race that in the November general election forced the retirement of longtime Marshal Earl “Nickey” Picard.

According to complete but unofficial returns, Brian Pope garnered 18,416 votes, or 52 percent, while sheriff’s Capt. Kip Judice received 16,782 votes.

Attempts Saturday night to reach Pope were unsuccessful.

Judice said Saturday after election returns were in that he wished Pope the best of luck.

“The people of Lafayette have spoken,” Judice said. “I’m good with that. I respect that. I support the next city marshal of Lafayette.”

It was a hard-fought, nearly yearlong campaign for a job running an office that has 17 deputy marshals whose main responsibilities, besides providing security for Lafayette City Court, are serving subpoenas and picking up fugitives on warrants issued by Lafayette’s two city judges.

In the Nov. 4 primary election, Pope outdistanced Judice by 8 percentage points, with Pope pulling 14,955 votes to Judice’s 11,582. Coming in third was Picard with 9,488 votes to fourth-place finisher Joseph Cormier, who got 4,146. Turnout in the November election was 50.2 percent of registered voters.

Pope, 49, was with the Marshal’s Office for 22 years before resigning in January to begin building a campaign. Judice, also 49, is on leave from the Sheriff’s Office, where he’s worked for 29 years.

Both men politicked hard for the office throughout 2014, engaging in mud-slinging that each accused the other of starting. The acrimony started early and continued throughout the campaign.

At 83 years old, Picard was seeking another six-year term. Picard endorsed Pope in late November .