District attorney candidates Deborah Gonzalez and James Chafin will face one another at the ballot box again in a quick turnaround on Dec. 1. Neither candidate captured more than 50% of the vote on Tuesday.
According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s unofficial results, Gonzalez received 34,516 votes — 48.34% — and Chafin received 24,976 votes, equaling 34.98% of the total votes.
“Although we did not receive 50+ percent of the vote, when you look at the total of votes our campaign received in comparison to our opponents, the message is quite clear,” Gonzalez said in a Nov. 4 press release. “Our community wants change in the criminal legal system and that they believe I am the person to make that happen. We have been successful up until now, and we will bring the victory home on December 1st.”
Gonzalez previously served as the former Georgia House State Representative for District 117 in the Georgia Legislature until 2018.
Before announcing his candidacy in August, Chafin served as the Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit, which encompasses Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties. Chafin is running as a nonpartisan candidate.
“I am honored and excited to have a spot in the Dec. 1 runoff. Our focus will continue to be electing a District Attorney with the experience necessary to keep our community safe and serve effectively from day one,” Chafin said to The Red & Black. “I ran for this position as a nonpartisan candidate because I believe the DA should be committed only to serving with integrity —not a political agenda.”
Interim DA Brian Patterson, who was inaccurately listed as the incumbent DA on 16,000 misprinted absentee ballots mailed to voters, came in third place with 16.68% of all the votes.
Patterson, who was previously the Chief Assistant DA, became the interim DA after former DA Ken Mauldin’s sudden resignation in February.
Mauldin’s resignation set into motion a nearly year-long legal battle to reinstate the district attorney’s election, spearheaded by Gonzalez, after a 2018 Georgia law gave Gov. Brian Kemp the power to choose the next DA instead of voters.
The law specified if Kemp made the appointment anytime after May 3 — six months before Election Day — his appointee would serve until the winner of the next DA election in 2022 took office.
After Gonzalez sued Kemp in federal court, the Georgia Supreme Court eventually found the law unconstitutional on Oct. 28.