Ahrens attorney and former state House Rep. Deborah Gonzalez is one of five plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger for violation of First Amendment speech and voter rights.

The other plaintiffs are April Boyer Brown, Linda Lloyd, Adam Shirley and Oconee resident Andrea Wellnitz, who had unsuccessfully run for Board of Education in 2018. Together, they are seekingan election for district attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit be held this November. 

Former Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin resigned in February, making his chief assistant district attorney Brian Patterson the acting DA. Along with Gonzalez,  Patterson was a Democratic candidate for an election that would have been held Nov. 3 had Gov. Brian Kemp appointed a new DA to fill the vacancy immediately and also run against Gonzalez and Patterson in November.

A 2018 state law, however, sets a deadline for when a governor can appoint a district attorney and still have an election the same year. Kemp failed to meet that May 3 deadline, and now the person he appoints will stay in office through 2022. 

Patterson put his name in the hat for the appointment, but Gonzalez did not. 

Both Mauldin and Patterson publicly advocated for Kemp to meet the May 3 appointment deadline. In his resignation letter, Mauldin asked Kemp to appoint a successor with “expediency.” 

For more on this story, see the May 28 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. 

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