Cleveland cites law experience, community involvement as edge in Superior Court Judge race

Published 5:06 pm Friday, July 8, 2016

Early voting has officially started in the runoff election for Superior Court Judge in the South Georgia Judicial district.

Ryan Cleveland and Heather Hendricks Lanier were the top two vote-getters in the May Primary.

Ryan Cleveland narrowly won the primary with 4089 votes to Lanier’s 4046. His biggest margin of victory was in Decatur County, also the circuit seat.

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“I think that’s the advantage I have over my opponent, who works in a completely different circuit,” Cleveland said. “She lives here, and I know that’s how she contributes, but I think it’s important that someone that’s familiar with the circuit, familiar with the attorneys that work in the circuit, (is judge).”

He has spent time working as a prosecutor and defense attorney in the circuit and he feels that his diverse experience will make a fair judge.

But what differentiates Cleveland from his opponent, Lanier?

“My perspective,” he said. “I sometimes think I’ll be a better judge than I was an attorney, because I can see through the injustices and apply (what) I think would be best.”

One of his goals, if elected, is to continue to implement the drug court, which offers non-violent offenders the chance to avoid jail time.

“I’m excited for the implementation of the drug courts, the accountability court that hasn’t been around this circuit for long,” Cleveland said. “My first goal is to enforce the laws against the people that steal our stuff or damage our stuff or harm us. I think there’s some redemption that can come through some of these new courts that I’m looking for.”

He has spent 11 total years working in this district. Cleveland is also very involved in the community outside of work.

“I’ve been on several boards,” he said. “Kiwanis, the Library Board, Historic Preservation Committee. I think I’m in tune more, especially in Decatur County. It flows into my involvement in scouting and with my church and its involvement into Grady County.”

Early voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week and next week. Early voting will also be open on Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The times will change to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week of July 18.

The race is non-partisan, meaning voters will not have to choose a ballot as in previous elections.

On July 26, all nine precincts in Decatur County will be open for voting.