Savannah Morning News: What to know about the DA race

Why are you running for Chatham County District Attorney?

“As the District Attorney for the past eight years, I have overhauled and updated the processes in the District Attorney’s Office. I have established new programs and innovations such as the Youth Intercept (for at risk-youth) and Pre-Trial Diversion for youthful non-violent first offenders. Additionally, I have created a gun prosecutor position who works with local and federal law enforcement to focus on gang and gun violence in our community. I expanded the Special Victims Unit providing even more specialized prosecution and support to victims of family violence including victims of elder abuse, child abuse and crimes against women.

I have been hugely supportive of the accountability courts in Juvenile, State and Superior Courts. Those programs are designed to address the underlying issues that may cause someone to enter into the criminal justice system such as mental health, alcohol or drug problems.”

“I helped establish the Chatham County Family Justice Center to assist special victims find the services they need in one space rather than traveling to multiple locations and getting lost in the process. I have more that I would like to accomplish including focusing my attention on human trafficking and the continued innovation for at risk youth and special victims.”

What do you consider the most important issues of your platform?

“From my perspective, the role of the victim in the criminal justice system is the one that I champion the most. I learned early on in my career working as a victim advocate in the 1980s and I continued to support victims when I became a prosecutor in the early 1990s. In 2019, Marsy's Law was passed as a constitutional amendment, solidifying how victims must be treated by the system. I take this role very seriously, because often, my staff are the only ones making sure that victims' rights are upheld.

Additionally, I am very concerned about the most vulnerable in our population --women, children and the elderly. When those populations are victimized, they have special issues that must be addressed as part of those cases. My SVU prosecutors have collectively attended and conducted hundreds of hours of specialized training nationally.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Chatham County District Attorney's Office

“From my perspective, the greatest challenge of the office is finding the funding to accomplish all of the tasks we want to undertake. Innovation is not free, so I spend time looking for alternative methods such as grants to pay for those projects and working with the state and the Chatham County Commission to fund the office as well as prioritizing the funding for the specialized programs.”

What would you say to the undecided voter?

“I am a career prosecutor. I have dedicated my life and my nearly 30-year career to defending the rights of and providing a voice to the victim. In my time, I have worked or administered in every division of the office including as an advocate, in juvenile, state and superior court as well as child support. Additionally, in my career, I have worked in every level of position from a receptionist to senior management. When I make decisions for the office, I consider everyone and how my decisions affect them.”

“I am responsible for the handling of a budget of more than $8 million. As such, I understand the inner workings of a district attorney’s office and know where the changes need to occur. I have spent the past eight years working on improvements to the system as well as innovations to reduce those coming into the system.”

“My intention for the next term is to continue to scour the country for additional new innovations to reduce the number of people entering the system while continuing to increase the efficiency of our office. We have a number of programs in Savannah including Savannah Youth City that I would like to support and help grow.”