Herbst, a former Cape Girardeau City Council member and police officer, received 44 percent of the vote to challenger Maurice "Moe" Sandfort's 31 percent, leaving two-term incumbent Jay Purcell last with 24 percent.
Herbst attributed his win to the reputation he said he has built in the community.
"I think it was really two things," Herbst said. "It was that voters sent a message out that we are ready for some change and that I was the right candidate."
The candidates for county commissioner were all Republicans, making the outcome of Tuesday's election the final decision for the office.
Purcell, disappointed with the results, said he intends to continue working to serve the people of the county and in the future will support candidates that support small government.
"I've always fought for what was right," he said. "I think my record speaks for itself. I think as time goes on, people will realize what I've accomplished."
Purcell also touted money-saving measures he implemented while a commissioner, such as taking over supervision of the county parks department and encouraging elimination of some jobs in county offices while giving raises in others for taking on more duties, as well as several projects he oversaw in the county parks, as reason he believed he should have been re-elected.
Lisa Reitzel, a longtime registered nurse, was able to come out on top in a large field of Republican public administrator candidates -- 13 in all -- and will now move on to face the race's single Democrat, Mary Cotner, in the Nov. 6 general election. Reitzel came away with nearly 28 percent of the vote to Julie Metzger's 21 percent. Debra Tracy followed in third place with 10 percent of the vote.
"I know there is still a long road ahead of me, but I want to say thanks to everyone who supported me and also thanks to fellow competitors," Reitzel said. "I've worked in elections before but never been a candidate and found out how hard it really is to put yourself out there and I know it was hard for them to do that, too."
The office of public administrator pays $72,000 annually and requires serving as a guardian or conservator for about 150 county residents who suffer from physical or mental conditions severe enough that they lack the capacity to meet basic requirements such as food, clothing, shelter or safety. Current Public Administrator Phyllis Schwab will retire in January after more than 10 years on the job.
Another retirement, that of the lone Democratic county officeholder Assessor Jerry Reynolds, prompted a three-way Republican race between real estate appraiser Bob Adams, real estate developer Amy Jones and geographic information systems coordinator Ron Andrews. Adams took an early lead as precinct totals came in and came away with the win by garnering 41 percent of the vote.
Adams will assume the role of Assessor on Sept. 1, 2013, following completion of yearly property assessments.
1 Barton Square, Jackson, MO