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Independent candidate for Western Judicial Circuit DA driving to get name on ballot


The following is reprinted with permission from the Oconee County Observations blog

By Lee Becker

Kalki Yalamanchili on has launched a new phase of his petition drive to get on the ballot in November as an Independent candidate to become district attorney for the two-county Western Judicial Circuit District.

Yalamanchili selected seven locations, four in Oconee County and three in Clarke County, where registered voters in either county could sign a petition asking that his name appear on the November ballot.

Team members were to be at two of the sites from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at the remaining five sites from 5 to 8 p.m.

Yalamanchili reported at a little after 6:30 p.m. on Thursday that he had been told turnout was good at all seven of the locations. (Yalamanchili said in an email at 12:41 p.m. on 2/16/2024 that he obtained 475 signatures from the seven sites.)

Yalamanchili was at the meeting of the Oconee County Democrats at the Oconee Chamber of Commerce in Watkinsville with the intention of introducing himself to that group.

The in-person meeting was cancelled, however, when party leaders learned that the access code for the meeting room had changed and they hadn’t been given the new code.

In November, Yalamanchili spoke before the Oconee County Republican Party, and he said on Thursday that he has appeared before meetings of Democrats and Republicans in Clarke County as well.

Yalamanchili said on Thursday that he estimates that he already has about 1,000 of the 5,694 signatures he needs to have his named placed on the ballot.

Drive Activities

By state law, Jan. 11 was the first day that Yalamanchili could begin circulating nomination petitions.

The Athens attorney who lives in Oconee County said that he began his petition drive on Jan. 20 and began canvassing neighborhoods about a week later.

The Thursday night effort to get people to show up at a specific site to sign the petition was a first, he said.

He reached out through text messaging, word of mouth, and messages on his campaign web site to get people to go to the selected sites.

The Oconee County sites were: Oconee Veterans Park, North High Shoals Community Center, Farmington Community Center, and Bogart Agricultural Historical Museum.

The Clarke County locations were the Athens-Clarke County Library, Country Inn and Suites, and Athens Sports Arena.

Web Site Message

Incumbent District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez is running for re-election as a Democrat, and Yalamanchile could have challenged her in the Democratic Primary on May 21, or run as a candidate in the Republican Primary on that same date.

“For those of you who don't know, this is technically a partisan race,” Yalamanchili states in the message on his web site asking people to sign his petition.

“But personally, I think that a focus on politics over fulfilling the duties of the office is part of what has created the mess we are in right now,” it continues. “We have a District Attorney's office that is both understaffed and underperforming because we elected someone based on political promises instead of experienced leadership.”

“Protecting our community shouldn't be a partisan issue which is why I decided to run as an independent,” Yalamanchili states on the web site, “but that means our team has to collect thousands of signatures from registered voters in the Circuit just to get on the ballot.”

“It's important to note that every signature has to be collected in person which is why we will have team members at locations across the Circuit this Thursday to make it as convenient as possible,” the statement continues.

Needed Signatures

Qualification for the District Attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit will be handled by the Georgia Secretary of State Office, since the Circuit consists of the two counties.

In October of last year, after Yalamanchile announced he intended to run for the district attorney office as an Independent, I began writing to the Secretary of State Office to determine how many signatures Yalamanchili would need and how that number would be calculated.

When I was unable to get a response after repeated messaging, Sharon Gregg, Director of Elections and Registration for Oconee County, intervened on my behalf.

On Feb. 8, Aaron Bell, Election Support and Training Specialist with the Secretary of State, told Gregg in a message she forwarded to me that “Our office doesn't calculate those numbers for the county.”

Bell suggested that Oconee County Attorney Daniel Haygood should be consulted.

County Attorney Response

Haygood told me in an email exchange this week that the law requires that Yalamanchili obtain the signatures of a number of registered voters equal to “5 percent of the registered voters in the last election for this office.”

Registered voters includes both active and inactive voters, according to this interpretation, and that number for Oconee County on Nov. 3, 2020, according to Gregg, was 31,615.

Charlotte Sosebee, Chief Registrar and Director Elections for Clarke County, told me in a telephone call Wednesday, the number in that county was 82,256.

Five percent of the total of 113,871 voters in the two counties is 5,694.

The first day Yalamanchili can file his petitions is June 24.

The deadline for filing the petitions is noon on July 9.

Sosebee and Gregg will be in charge of validating the signatures, according to Sosebee’s and Haygood’s interpretation of the procedures.


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2 Comments


I hope everyone will vote for him. geometry dash

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Please help him get enough signatures to allow him to run and defeat the absolutely horrible pathetic District Attorney we have now. We need change and someone that will prosecute criminals.

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