Deborah Gonzalez, candidate for district attorney, has called on Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint a new DA by May 3 and to call a special election to decide the winner of the seat this year. (Photo/Julian Alexander, jalexander@randb.com)

Former District Attorney candidate Deborah Gonzalez filed a civil rights suit against Gov. Brian Kemp for delaying the district attorney’s election until November 2022.

The suit argues Kemp disenfranchised voters by not allowing them to choose their next district attorney and asks Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to conduct an election this November. The Secretary of State’s office oversees all elections in the state.

The election for the Western Judicial Circuit’s district attorney, which encompasses Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties, was originally scheduled for this November.

However, after former Western Judicial Circuit’s District Attorney Ken Mauldin’s resignation in February, Kemp had until May 3 to fill the office with an appointment to avoid delaying the election under a 2018 Georgia law. Kemp’s appointee will now serve in the office until the state-wide general election in November 2022.

Kemp has not announced an appointment for the office as of press time. On Feb. 11, the State Bar of Georgia announced Kemp was accepting nominations to fill Mauldin’s vacancy.

The suit was filed by Atlanta lawyer Bruce Brown for Gonzalez and four other Athens voters against Kemp and Raffensperger.

“It is fundamentally unfair and constitutionally impermissible for public officials to disenfranchise voters in violation of state law so that they may fill the seats of government through the power of appointment,” the suit said.

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