Joint Statement by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners and Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez
In recent weeks, unfortunate written comments regarding Oconee County by District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez became widely publicized. In an effort to reduce tensions and ensure that the important work of the justice system continues in an effective manner, Commissioner Chuck Horton, Chairman John Daniell and DA Deborah Gonzalez recently met to discuss the situation. All participants agree that we had a very frank and healthy conversation regarding both our individual concerns and our common interests.
We discussed recent statements made by the District Attorney regarding what she considered to be extreme and threatening language directed at her on social media, as well as a recent alleged assault by a white male resident of Clarke County on a white male attendee at an Oconee County Democratic Party event. District Attorney Gonzalez deeply regrets the unfortunate choice of language used in a recent email she sent regarding these matters. While DA Gonzalez only intended to single out the actions of a few, she understands why Oconee County was offended by these comments. It was not her intent to cause such offense, and DA Gonzalez apologizes.
We also discussed whether splitting the Western Judicial Circuit was in the best interests of the residents of Athens-Clarke and Oconee Counties. While no consensus exists, we agree the decision to make a change in the circuit should not be based on the election of an individual District Attorney.
In our conversation, it was apparent that despite some very real disagreements over policy we had one shared goal that was of primary importance: ensuring the safety of the people in both counties. In order to work most effectively towards this shared goal, Oconee County Government and the DA’s Office will have quarterly scheduled meetings to review operations and discuss any individual concerns going forward.
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Daniell
Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chuck Horton
Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez