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Gonzalez not the right fit for Athens/Oconee DA

I'm sure many of my friends may wonder why I speak out for electing James Chafin for District Attorney in the Runoff Election when they support Deborah Gonzalez. I am a registered Democrat, I believe in women being treated as equals, I am a person who believes diversity is what makes the United States of America that much better. However, I am not a fan of buying campaign rhetoric and chose to do research and factor in my personal experiences to determine who the best person is to fill the position of the District Attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit of Georgia. In doing so, I do not feel that Deborah Gonzalez is the person for this position for many reasons. I have seen far too much in the Gonzalez campaign that is of great concern to me:

  • Gonzalez believes that victims of crimes experience the same amount of pain as defendants and their families. Victims do not make active choices to be in the position they are in. Defendants, who absolutely deserve their day in court, but when guilty have made a conscious decision to violate the laws of this country. The experiences of these two could not be more different.

  • Gonzalez has made assertions about the political affiliations of her opponents, including assertions that James Chafin is a Republican who is faking his political affiliations in order to be elected to office. We have the right to register with the party we are aligned with, yet Gonzalez and some of her supporters, including county commissioners, seem to believe that there is a litmus test that candidates must pass in order to register with any political party affiliation. Lady Justice is a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales that symbolizes fair and equal administration of the law, without corruption, favor, greed or prejudice. She is the embodiment of why politics do not belong in the courtroom or with a District Attorney and the decisions they make. Gonzalez is choosing to ride the popular "blue wave" in an attempt to trick voters into thinking that political party affiliation matters and is attempting to discredit the political affiliation of her opponent.

  • Deborah Gonzalez has been gaining endorsements from celebrities that do not even live in the state of Georgia. Gonzalez is an entertainment attorney with no experience in trying a criminal case in a court of law. Having the person who is in the position of keeping Athens and Oconee safe and to get rid of gangs, dangerous criminals and to advocate for special victims simply cannot be accomplished by someone with no experience in criminal law. Common sense tells us that getting endorsements from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man who wrote and starred in the Broadway hit Hamilton does nothing to help the local citizens in this District to remain safe and for law and order to occur. James Chafin has spent years in the District Attorney's Office fighting for all of these things and has the experience to continue on this path of justice.

  • Deborah Gonzalez's Campaign Manager, Cameron Jay Harrelson, is the host of the Classic City Crime Podcast. Initially I was a fan and on board with working to find leads to hopefully lead to a successful conviction of the murderer of Tara Baker. Unfortunately, I began noticing inconsistencies in the podcast and then a theme of questioning the integrity of the ACCPD in this investigation and perhaps others. As red flags popped up after doing my own research I have been able to uncover information that is actually contrary to what is being stated in episodes of the podcast through the same open records requests Harrelson has conducted. Gonzalez supporting Harrelson and the chipping away at the integrity of the ACCPD in a podcast makes sense as she is a member of an organization that is interested in defunding the police.

Deborah Gonzalez appears to be a very nice person who wants to help reduce criminal behavior and cycles of poverty in the community. However, her initiatives could be better served in the appropriate places such as the Clarke County School District and outreach programs. They are not something that are appropriate to pursue properly through the District Attorney's Office. In fact, I believe that crime rates would increase greatly if Gonzalez were to stop pursuing harsh sentences for habitual offenders and by not working hand in hand with all local law enforcement agencies. A relationship with John Q is fantastic, but there are other agencies that must work together as a team in order to pursue the successful prosecution of criminals.

We are afforded an incredible opportunity to vote in this country and no one should ever take this responsibility lightly. You can't simply say, "Oh they are a member of my political party so I will vote for them." Please make an educated choice when you vote for our next District Attorney on December 1st. When looking at both sides and some basic research you will see that James Chafin is the proper person for the job as experience is far more important than catch phrases.

Erin Lahey


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