EDITOR’S NOTE: Because of the controversial nature of our coverage of district attorney Julia Slater, we have given special prominence to the following opinion piece.
After reading the commentary written by Executive Editor Ben Holden on March 28, 2009, concerning District Attorney Julia Slater, I must say that I am deeply appalled and surprised at how unfairly her performance and decision-making as district attorney were questioned.
Over the last several years I have come to admire and respect Mr. Holden for his many accomplishments. In fact, many young African Americans in this community see him as a role model for what can be attained in journalism.
My rebuke of his article doesn’t change my respect for him and what he has accomplished, but rather highlights my disappointment at an unfair attack on District Attorney Slater.
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The commentary concerning District Attorney Slater was unfair, mean-spirited and without merit at best. Moreover, District Attorney Slater was measured with a different set of standards than former District Attorney Gray Conger. I am sure if we search Mr. Conger’s record after serving over 10 years as district attorney, we will find numerous cases where the community said collectively “enough is enough.” To my knowledge, there has never been any article dedicated to scrutinizing his performance as district attorney similar to how District Attorney Slater was scrutinized.
As a newly elected member to the NAACP National Board, state president of the Georgia State Conference NAACP and citizen of Columbus, Georgia, I am proud of the decisions that Julia Slater has made concerning cases in this community since her election in November 2008.
Mr. Ben Holden, in his commentary, labeled District Attorney Julia Slater decisions as “missteps.” However, many of us who were sick and tired of being sick and tired of the last district attorney call her decisions honest and well thought-out.
Moreover, many of us are proud to have a district attorney (who just happens to be the first woman to ever hold this position in Muscogee County) who would err on the side of caution in reviewing and assigning cases rather than reckless decision-making.
Perhaps Mr. Holden should have been in attendance at the Sisters Incorporated Rosa Park Women of Courage Breakfast on March 2, where District Attorney Slater was one of three recipients selected to receive this prestigious award. This would have provided an opportunity for Mr. Holden to observe how well respected District Attorney Julia Slater is in this community
The attack on Julia Slater was yet another example of how women holding similar positions as men are held to different standards.
It is unfortunate that this article would be released during the month when the country is celebrating the many accomplishments and contributions that women have made.
We thank Julia Slater for living up to her campaign platform of making decisions that she thinks are right even if those decisions are unpopular. This is more than we can say about her predecessor.