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Anderson plans to relax in retirement

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

August 13, 2008

NEWTON, GA (WALB) - After twelve years as sheriff, the last five surrounded in controversy, Baker County Sheriff Isaac Anderson will retire.

Anderson says it's not a decision he made lightly, but with heath concerns and a lengthy legal battle ahead he's decided to dismiss the pending legal actions he's started with the county and Georgia POST Council and remove his name for the ballot in the fall.

Former Baker County Sheriff Isaac Anderson made the decision to retire around 9 o'clock Sunday night. In phone conversations he said it wasn't an easy decision and was made mostly because of health problems associated with diabetes, which he allowed his attorney to explain.

"He is about to be on complete dialysis and reliance on dialysis. He didn't feel like being on dialysis once every two days would make a good sheriff," said Anderson's Attorney Phil Cannon.

Anderson is vested with the Georgia Sheriff's Association. He's also agreed to dismiss the pending legal action over his Georgia Peace Officer Standard Training Certification that's had him and the county in and out of court for two years.

"When you throw that major life changing factor into the equation, the little thing about trying to prove a point that he never did anything wrong become a lot less important," said Cannon.

Baker County Attorney Tommy Coleman says Anderson has also agreed to file the necessary paperwork to remove his name from the November ballot. For now the Baker County Coroner will continue to act as Sheriff. "He's the sheriff until and when the probate judge elects to make an appointment."

Coleman says the county can now move forward. "The business of government is to try to improve the quality of peoples lives and when you have disputes between actors in the government its very distracting."

Anderson said he plans to relax, and appreciates the support he's received from county residents who have voted for him when he was charged and acquitted of hindering the investigation of a domestic dispute in 2003.

Anderson's attorney says he should receive his first retirement check by the end of the month. Baker County doesn't have an active Democratic party, but the state Democratic party says they hope to have a replacement candidate on the November ballot.

    • Baker County background-

Embattled sheriffs are a longstanding tradition in Baker County. Anderson was the fourth of six sheriff's since 1957 to face criminal charges.

The most memorable may have been Sheriff Warren "Gator" Johnson who served from 1957 to 1977. Johnson was an advocate of public hangings and was accused of knocking a civil rights worker out of the courthouse during a black voter registration drive.

He closed the county jail during a funding dispute with county commissioners and threatened to arrest FBI and GBI agents for trespassing if they entered the county.

Gator's son Scroot Johnson took office after his father and in 1982 he was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion and went to prison.

Hopson Irvin was appointed Sheriff in 1982 to replace Scroot Johnson but was convicted of conspiring to ruin the liquor business of Jerry Johnson, Scroot's brother.

In the last 50 years, only two sheriffs have held that office without being charged with a crime-Larry Etheridge and J. W. Gaines.

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