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District Attorney returns to office

As of press deadline, it appears that Democratic incumbent Joe Mulholland beat out Republican Ryan Cleveland for District Attorney of the South Georgia Judicial Circuit.

The circuit covers five counties—Baker, Calhoun, Decatur, Grady and Mitchell counties.

In Decatur County, Mulholland received 5,936 votes, or 61.3 percent, to Cleveland’s 3,748 votes, or 38.7 percent.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State, with 93 percent of the five counties precincts reporting, Mulholland received 61.2 percent of votes, or 17,810 votes. Cleveland received 11,282 votes, or 38.8 percent.

“This was obviously a tough election,” Mulholland said after the polls were closed. “We have a lot of issues to deal with including juvenile crime, gangs and crime in general with the downturn of the economy. I look forward to serving the people of this community over the next four years and keeping the community safe.”

Not long after the polls closed, Mulholland headed home to prepare for another day of court.

A main point Mulholland stressed while campaigning for re-election was his record and experience.

“The people of Decatur County need to know that the person sitting at the counsel table is the most competent and experienced possible,” Mulholland said in an interview with The Post-Searchlight. “I have spent the last seven years trying over 40 major felony trials from murder to rape to armed robbery, with a conviction rate over 80 percent.”

Mulholland served as an assistant district attorney for the South Georgia Circuit under Brown Moseley. When Moseley chose not to run for district attorney in 2004, Mulholland became his predecessor being elected as the youngest DA in the state of Georgia.

In office, he was the first district attorney in Georgia to shut down violators of the state’s 2004 Payday Lending Act, which placed a 16 percent cap on interest loans under $3,000. Between 2004 and 2006, he prosecuted several such loan businesses in the Bainbridge area.

Campaigning, Mulholland also boasted increasing conviction rates in the district attorney office while maintaining the same budget over the past three years.

Cleveland, his opponent, worked under Mulholland as an assistant district attorney.

During his campaign, he stressed the importance of accountability for the DA’s office.

He stressed the importance of a close relationship between the district attorney and law enforcement.

“Case laws are constantly being updated, and it is important that both law enforcement officers and attorneys be kept informed of the latest developments. I will be available at all times,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland pointed to his master’s degree in public administration to aid him in running the office and help provide financial accountability, which he said was lacking.

Both candidates stressed the importance of dealing with juvenile delinquency, stressing the importance of community programs in keeping juveniles out of trouble.