Deborah Gonzalez will be the new District Attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit.
Gonzalez, who specializes in entertainment law and served in the Georgia House of Representatives in 2018, defeated Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney James Chafin.
Gonzales earned 13,483 votes across both Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, whereas Chafin received 12,617 within the judicial circuit. That’s a difference of 866 votes.
Within Oconee County, Chafin won by 4,795 votes.
In Athens-Clarke County, Gonzalez won by 5,661 votes.
Turnout was 30.5 percent in Oconee and only 22 percent in Athens-Clarke, but the neighboring county has a much higher population than Oconee and thus contributed almost 65 percent of the total vote in this special election.
Although Athens-Clarke County posted an online notice announcing that vote computation and canvassing would be delayed until Wednesday morning, all of its precincts reported votes Tuesday night.
Gonzalez thanked voters for participating in the democratic process, whether they voted for her or not.
“Now, the real work starts,” she said. “I’m hoping for a new day and to bring fair and just prosecution in Athens and Oconee and to keep our communities safe and to address the issues that haven’t been addressed that we can do now.”
Gonzalez reiterated her commitment to tackling ending cash bail, addressing systematic racism and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.
“I want restorative justice and expanding accountability courts,” she said. “I want to have transparency in the courts in that office for the community.”
She elaborated that it is at her discretion who gets to work in the district attorney’s office.
“It’s my understanding that he (Chafin) wouldn’t be working in that office,” said Gonzalez, “and Patterson resigned effective Dec. 31.”