By Joe Johnson
Western Judicial District Ken Mauldin announced Wednesday that he would not be seeking a sixth term as head prosecutor for Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties.
Mauldin, who has served as DA since 2001, said it was time for him to “turn the page to a different chapter in my life.”
Mauldin, who earned a reputation as a formidable trial attorney, said in a statement that he began thinking of leaving his post last year, when his wife was a candidate for Superior Court judge in the same judicial circuit which he served. He said he would not seek reelection if Allison Mauldin won the judgeship to avoid conflicts of interest.
“While I had not made the decision about reelection then, it may have been an indicator of what was to come,” he said.
“Over what will be a span of twenty years, I believe that this is where God wanted me to be,” Mauldin said. “For that reason, I sought election to this position in 2000 and reelection since then. I am forever appreciative of the trust placed in me by the people of this circuit since 2001.”
Mauldin said he planned to finish out his current term so that Gov. Kemp does not choose his replacement.
“I believe very much in the election process and it was always my intent to allow the voters in these two counties to decide who will be their next district attorney,” he said. “For that reason, I will serve out each day of the remainder of this term as district attorney and will be as proud to do so as I was on the first day of my first term and every day thereafter.”
Mauldin’s announcement was welcomed by former state representative Deborah Gonzalez, a Democrat who announced her candidacy for DA.
“I think it puts me in a slightly stronger position,” she said.
Gonzalez is a media and entertainment lawyer with no experience as a prosecutor, but in the General Assembly she served on the house committee that handles bills related to criminal justice, and she also served on a criminal justice task force for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.
Mauldin’s announcement caught many by surprise and attorneys have been approached by Republicans urging them to run for the judicial post that has long been a Democratic stronghold.
Prior to Mauldin, Democrat Harry Gordon served as DA for 28 years
No one other than Gonzalez has announced their candidacy, put aspiring DAs have until March to qualify as candidates.
If other Democrats toss their hats in the ring, a primary would be held on May 19.
Mauldin used much of his announcement to commend thank those he has served and coomend those with whom he served.
“To the people of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties, it has been my honor and privilege to serve as your district attorney,” Mauldin stated.
“I have been particularly blessed by the men and women who have worked and continue to work in this office as assistant district attorneys, investigators, victim advocates and support personnel, “he said. “They are the real heroes and they are my heroes. They have served honorably and faithfully to represent not just this office and me as district attorney, but more importantly, the people of this community of Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties and the people State of Georgia.”
He added, “I am blessed as well for the dedicated members of the law enforcement agencies with whom I have worked alongside and been otherwise associated. They put their lives on the line each and every day in service to us all and for that, I am immeasurably grateful and humbled.”
Mauldin has been a practicing attorney for more than 39 years. Before his current position, he served almost 10 years as the elected Solicitor General of Athens-Clarke County, another 10 years as an assistant district attorney, and was a public defender with the Legal Aid Clinic.
Since 1990, Mauldin has been an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia School of Law teaching a course in trial practice. Among other activities, has served as attorney coach for the Clarke Central High School Mock Trial Team.
He and Allison Mauldin, who serves as chief assistant district attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. have three children, Grace, Nick and Jake.