St. Paul police officers on Tuesday elected a longtime union leader to serve as the organization's president in the first contested race for the seat in nearly two decades.

Officer Paul Kuntz, the St. Paul Police Federation's former vice president, was elected president over challenger Sgt. Matt Koncar. Outgoing President Dave Titus had been slated to run for re-election, but ultimately stepped down last month after taking a new job with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

Chris Wachtler, the federation's attorney, said Kuntz won by a "significant" margin. He said 440 members voted in the election. The force has 628 sworn officers, which includes Chief Todd Axtell.

The election had drawn attention because Koncar was challenging Titus, which no officers could recall happening in Titus' approximately 18-year reign as union president. Koncar had also openly challenged Titus' controversial attack in 2017 on then-mayoral candidate Melvin Carter.

When news of Titus' move to the sheriff's office was announced in mid-December, Titus e-mailed union members saying he would not step down from his nomination and calling for a special meeting, which some saw as a political move to control the outcome of Tuesday's election and ensure that one of his supporters would succeed him.

Titus forfeited his nomination at a Dec. 20 special meeting where Kuntz, who was then running unopposed as union vice president, was nominated by union members to run for president, Wachtler said.