Gov. Brian Kemp has canceled an election for the district attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit.
Kemp’s decision to not appoint a district attorney for the Athens-Oconee judicial circuit by a May 4 deadline means that he can now appoint someone who will fill the seat through 2022 without an election this November.
Athens attorney and former House Rep. Deborah Gonzalez, who was one of the two announced candidates for that office, led a strong lobbying effort for the governor to appoint someone before May 4. Several legislators also wrote letters to Kemp in support of an appointment by that deadline.
On Feb. 29, Western Judicial Circuit DA Ken Mauldin resigned.
Chief Assistant DA Brian Patterson, who had announced his candidacy for the top position in 2019, became the interim DA, a position he was to hold until Kemp made his appointment.
Due to state law, Kemp, a Republican governor, had to appoint a temporary successor by May 3 for a special election to take place later this year.
The rules for a district attorney vacancy are stipulated in a 2018 state statue, not the Georgia Constitution.
In his resignation letter, Mauldin, a Democrat, urged the governor to appoint a successor with expediency. Gonzalez and Patterson were running as Democrats.
Patterson put his name in the hat for an appointment, but Gonzalez did not.
For more on this story, see the April 23 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website.