With new Fulton County elected officials being sworn in either in late December or early January, incoming politicians interviewed by the Neighbor said they are looking forward to taking the reins.
New Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat, who defeated incumbent Ted Jackson in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary runoff election, said he’s excited about “being able to engage with our community.”
“It’s a wonderful opportunity. Voters have voted for change, and we want to be part of what the new law enforcement (in Fulton County) looks like,” he said of an effort from voters to bring new blood in at the county sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices. “I am excited to be able to serve and can’t wait (to start).”
Fani Willis, who defeated 24-year incumbent Paul Howard Jr. in the Aug. 11 Democratic runoff, said she’s looking forward to being “able to change the culture of the office in a way that better serves the community.”
“We’re already in the process of making good on those (campaign) promises,” said Willis, who spent several years as an assistant district attorney under Howard. “The first thing is to bring a qualified staff to that office. Eighty percent of the leaders have already been identified, and we’re in the process of on-boarding them. The first group comes in January and one by one, we’ll bring them (all) onto the staff by April. … I kept two to three deputies from (Howard’s office). Most of the leadership I’m bringing from the outside.
“I’m in the process of restoring relationships with local law enforcement agencies, which will help improve the quality of their work and our work. If you have those relationships, you can have open dialogue. The police don’t always bring perfect cases, but if they have a prosecutor they can trust, it can lead to better investigative work and the community being safe. We can learn from them as well.”
Another change Willis is bringing to the office is eliminating its complaint room and replacing it with a case intake unit that “will have the most seasoned investigators and lawyers in it so cases can be prosecuted.”
New District 4 Fulton County Board of Education member Franchesca Warren defeated Sandra Wright in the Aug. 11 nonpartisan runoff to replace Linda Bryant, who is retiring. Warren said she’s looking forward to “serving my community.”
“I’ve been a parent, teacher and administrator in schools,” she said. “I bring a unique perspective to the board. I have three children who still go to schools in the (Fulton) district. I think me being parent, continuing to bring that voice to the board (is important).”
Warren, whose district includes part of south Fulton, said her top plan is “to make sure all parents of children in south Fulton County schools can send their children to high-performing schools.”
New Superior Court Judge Shermela J. Williams beat incumbent Rebecca Crumrine Rieder in the June 9 nonpartisan primary. Williams, who was born and raised in Fulton, said she’s looking forward to “being able to serve this community and the citizens of Fulton County in a greater way and have a greater impact.”
Williams has more than 15 years of experience as a lawyer, serving a nearly 10 years as a prosecutor, plus working as a criminal defense attorney and has representing individuals in family law cases.
“I think being on the bench gives you a different avenue for impacting the community in a positive way,” she said. “I look forward to that. I look forward to starting some programs in Fulton to help some of our youth as well as looking at various community-based programs that will help with diversion, job training, some anger management for those who need it, really things that will help with quality of life here in Fulton County.”
New Probate Court Judge Kenya Johnson defeated Diane Weinberg and Tim Curtin in the June 9 nonpartisan primary to replace Judge Pinkie Toomer, who is retiring. Johnson said she’s looking forward to “sharing with the public about the life-improving services that Probable Court can offer.”
“Probable Court is a court that can help families, and we want to be able to provide more helpful services to more citizens,” she said.
When asked how she plans to implement her campaign promises, Johnson said, “I plan to fulfill my goals with Probate Court through the support of the (county) board of commissioners. They have supported my visions thus far. I look forward to work closely with them so we can improve our service delivery.
New District 6 Fulton Board of Commissioners member Khadijah Abdur-Rahmam was not available for an interview.