Dougherty Judgeship campaign difficult for candidates - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Judgeship campaign difficult for candidates

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June 25, 2004

Albany -- Next month, Dougherty County voters will choose a Superior Court judge. Steven Goss is seeking a second term and is being challenged by former prosecutor Johnnie Graham. It's a re-match from four years ago.

As he knocks on doors campaigning this summer, Stephen Goss says running for his office is different. Goss said "It is difficult, because as a Judge I can't promise anyone anything. I can't say I'll get your alley paved or I'll make sure your power bills will be held down. I have to follow the law."

Former prosecutor Johnnie Graham also has a grass roots campaign for Superior Court Judge, but stresses she is not political. Graham said "I am not running against Judge Goss. I've never indicated that I wanted to run against anyone. It has always been for the office of Superior Court Judge."

A Blakely native, Graham worked as an assistant Dougherty District Attorney, an assistant United States Attorney, and now as a defense lawyer. Graham said "If your focus is on public service, as mine has always been, then that is the highest court, that is the highest form of public service you can give your community."

Stephen Goss is a Sale City native who served as Juvenile Court Judge before being appointed to succeed Herbert Phipps who was appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1999. Voters let him keep the judgeship in the 2000 election. Goss said "I will continue doing what I have tried to do for the last nine years as a Judge in this community. That is be fair, follow the law, and treat people with dignity."

Judge Goss says his experience on the bench led him to champion the Mental Health and Substance Abuse program, which offers treatment instead of jail to offenders. Goss said "To deal with the root cause of their legal woes in many cases, which is drug or alcohol problems."

Johnnie Graham's top priority is to improve the jury selection process. Graham said "A better way to handle this was simply to have the first day of the term devoted to jury selection. You select the number of panels for the cases that you will be requiring trials."

The judgeship is non-partisan and will appear on Democratic and Republican primary ballots July 20th.

Superior Court Judges Loring Gray and Willie Lockette are also up for election but are unopposed.

posted at 4:39 PM by jimw@walb.com