The resignation of District Attorney Ken Mauldin has cast uncertainty on the race to succeed him. Will there even be an election for DA this year?
Erin Stacer of Athens for Everyone and Tim Denson, ACC Commissioner, organized a delivery of over 1,500 petition signatures to Governor Kemp, asking him to allow the voters to decide who will next serve them as DA. While at the Capitol, the group also asked their state representatives to weigh in publicly on this situation.
Watch the video above to find out what they said!
There may be a second delivery, so click here if you’d like to include your name on the petition.
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Former state representative Deborah Gonzalez and assistant DA Brian Patterson have been running for District Attorney of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties for several months, but the election was upended recently with the resignation of Ken Mauldin. Mauldin has been DA here since 2001, but suddenly resigned a couple weeks ago without much explanation. This resignation has huge political implications.
First, the Democratic primary that Deborah and Brian were both running in has been canceled! It’s over. Brian Patterson has been named interim DA, and he may serve at least through January, if not for another two entire years. How is that possible? Isn’t there an election still scheduled for November? Not necessarily. An anti-democratic law passed just a couple years ago in 2018 allows the Governor to cancel elections for District Attorney in the case of a resignation. If he appoints someone over 6 months from an election, everything is fine and the election will proceed as normal. If he chooses to wait until after the 6-month cutoff, then the entire election is canceled!
A petition went up quickly when all this came to light, asking the Governor to appoint the new DA before May 3 and allow an election this November. It now has over 1500 signatures! Erin Stacer, President of Athens for Everyone, and Tim Denson, ACC Commissioner, organized a carpool to deliver this petition on February 18.
Erin Stacer, President of Athens for Everyone: “So we’re about to go in and request that Governor Kemp please appoint Ken Mauldin’s replacement before May 3. We have a petition here with over 1,500 signatures. We have personal letters. We’ve got us, the constituents. So, we’re going to go ask if we could meet with him. We’ll see what happens!”
Receptionist: “He has a full schedule today, meetings back to back.”
Erin Stacer: “I get that.”
After delivering the petitions, we saw District 119 representative Marcus Wiedower in the hallway.
Caitlyn Gegen: “So, we were just really hoping that the Governor could get him appointed, or her appointed, before May 3, so that we can still have the election in November.”
State Representative Marcus Wiedower, District 119: “I’m 100% behind that. The voters need to decide. I hope he makes the appointment.”
We also were able to briefly speak with District 117 representative Houston Gaines.
Andrew Ferguson, candidate for US House, District 10: “Do you support that?”
State Representative Houston Gaines, District 117: “Yeah, I think having an election is always good.”
Andrew Ferguson: “So you think that it’s egregious, that there would not be a November election?
Houston Gaines “I mean, I think that there should be an election.”
Commissioner Tim Denson: “We just came out of the Capitol, speaking to state representatives who represent parts of Clarke county and Oconee county. And both that we spoke to, Representative Wiedower and Representative Gaines, both agreed that an election is the best way to move forward here. The voters of Athens need to be able to keep their ability to elect our elected officials. It’s that simple.”
Erin Stacer: “In particular, the DA, the District Attorney, has a lot of power.”
Caitlyn Gegen: “They get to decide who to prosecute, and with which charges to prosecute them. Without holding them accountable, our criminal justice system can go terribly awry.”
Andrew Ferguson: “They should not be dropped in by decree of the Governor, using a loophole in a law, and bypassing the will of the citizens.”
Board of Education Member Greg Davis, District 1: “The ultimate of voter suppression is not having the election to begin with.”
Let Governor Kemp know your opinion – you can contact him at gov.georgia.gov/contact-us. You can also sign the petition because there might be a second delivery. I’ll put the link in the description. Thanks for watching.