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Ealums commit to Corps

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April 18, 2008

Dougherty County --   Lee County Commissioner Jo Ealum now belongs to Uncle Sam, and now there are questions about what will happen to the remainder of her term. 

Ealum has been widely criticized for absences from meetings, there's even been a recall petition against her. Friday she signed her commitment to join the Marine Corps and in June will begin her training. It could leave her seat vacant until the November election.

Jo Ealum trades one public service detail for another, signing her commitment to the U. S. Marine Corps along side her sister and cousin.  "Everyone should serve the public whether it's on a board, or an elected position, or whether it's through the military they all should be highly respected," she said.

She begins her 10 week officer candidate school in June in Quantico, Virginia then six months Basic School training. She didn't have an answer when we asked what that means for the remainder of the term. "There's some legal issues we're going to have to discover and figure out actually what are all of my options."

Over the last four years, Ealum was criticized for meeting absences. She was arrested at a party, though the charges were later dropped. She also sued the Sheriff's office, and appeared in court over a confrontation with an ex-boyfriend.

"It has been a very tough road," Ealum said. "But I have always had my core supporters and I've had people who have been there with me through thick and thin and those are the people that I lean on."

Part of that core, her sister Susie, will be that support through this next challenge. "They've kind of already warned us and told us when we get there, they're going to do their best to separate us, but just knowing that she's there she's out there, we're going through the same things it definitely helps," said Susie.

Talk's already begun about who will replace Ealum. Tax Commissioner Betty Johnson plans to be at the election office when it opens on the 28th to qualify. "Until I really get in there and get involved I can't promise anybody anything, and I can't tell anybody what specifically what I might like to do until I get involved," Johnson said.

Commissioner Dennis Roland says his wife Debbie has also expressed interest. When Ealum was elected in 2004, she was the youngest county commissioner in Georgia.

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