By Robert Covi
All three branches of Georgia’s government have republican majorities and everyone knows how difficult it is for the minority party to get anything done. That being said, Deborah Gonzalez knew she had to fight to become District Attorney (D.A.) and fight she did. In fact, she had to go all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. When Governor Brian Kemp tried to cancel the election for D.A. using an unconstitutional law passed in 2018, Gonzalez sued him and won. Then she ran for office presenting herself openly as lacking prosecutorial experience and announcing her intention to prioritize justice reform. The VOTERS in the Western Circuit decided they liked what they heard and elected her. I had concerns about her lack of experience, but I voted for her because her journey to the ballot box demonstrated to me her toughness and fortitude, which, I thought, was wanted in a District Attorney.
I attended the last court hearing involving District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez because I was concerned about the generally negative publicity that DA Gonzalez seemed to be getting and wanted to understand what was happening. My impression was that Mr. Epps, the attorney who brought the case against Ms. Gonzalez was pretty aggressive. In fact, his questioning of the first witness was not only combative, but his manner was condescending toward the witness and at several points brought her to tears. I did not stay for the entire hearing, but my impression was that Mr. Epps was engaged in an unnecessary hostile attack on Ms. Gonzalez, well beyond the seeking of truth and justice would require. It seems to me that there is a case to be made that the current conservative minority is waging a political war against the district attorney because she is a Democrat. And they will keep up the pressure until she fails or resigns - no matter what the consequences are for the residents of this community.
I am concerned for my family’s safety as well as the safety of all the residents of Clarke and Oconee counties. The aggressive way that Ms. Gonzalez has been challenged, including taking her to court and demanding emails and texts via the freedom of information act, has forced her to spend her already limited time, money and resources answering these questionable complaints, instead of addressing problems and doing her job. As a result, and in spite of reports that crime is down in the Western Circuit, these politically driven tactics make our community less safe.
I am also alarmed by assaults on D.A. Gonzalez because they are assaults on citizens' constitutional right to choose who represents them and the right to vote should not be undermined by a well funded and politically motivated minority.
If we believe in the democratic process and the one-person-one-vote premise, then we need to let DA Gonzales do her job and let the VOTERS decide her fate in the 2024 election.