BY CHRIS BRIDGES
The three Republican candidates for District Attorney of the Piedmont Judicial Circuit once again addressed Barrow County voters last week.
Incumbent Rick Bridgeman, along with Republican primary challengers Donna Sikes and Brad Smith, had the opportunity to address an audience at a forum at Statham Elementary School last Thursday.
The event was sponsored by the Barrow County Republican Party.
The candidates were allowed three minutes to discuss their plans if elected.
A native of Jackson County, Sikes said the increased growth in the Barrow, Banks and Jackson area has caused an increase in criminal activity.
Sikes said she would like for the circuit to have a drug court which has been proven more effective in rehabilitating drug users.
“I believe the DA’s office needs to work with the police and sheriff’s offices with training to make sure we have good arrests to allow us to have good prosecutions,” Sikes said. “We don’t want criminals to get off on technicalities.”
Sikes said victims of crimes should also be entitled to restitution from criminals and victims should be kept informed of upcoming trial dates and to know when criminals are being released from jail.
A native of Barrow County, Smith said he has prosecuted multiple death penalty cases as an assistant DA.
Smith has been a prosecutor for 12 years and said he has tried more murder cases than anyone else in the district attorney’s office during his tenure.
Smith said he has also tried cases involving armed robbery and kidnapping.
Bridgeman, who was appointed to the seat by Governor Sonny Perdue following Tim Madison’s resignation, has held the office since last fall.
“I have worked to bring a culture of excellence to the DA’s office in Barrow County,” Bridgeman said. “We have moved forward with positive change.”
Bridgeman said a backlog of some 2,000 cases has been cleared since he was appointed to the position.
“We have brought every one of those presentable cases to court,” he said.
The conviction rate in the circuit since last fall has gone from 54 percent to 84 percent, Bridgeman said.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said.
Bridgeman also pointed out he was able to successful obtain the first life sentence without parole in Barrow County for a non-murder case.