Slater wins district attorney race; McBride takes Superior Court race

Editor's note: Election numbers for the district attorney and Superior Court judge races were incorrect in Wednesday's paper because of a counting error. The latest numbers from the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site appear below.

A Columbus attorney caused an upset in the district attorney's race while another local civil attorney won the only contested Superior Court judgeship in the circuit.With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Julia Fessenden Slater had 53.4 percent of the vote — 50,256 votes — in the district attorney's race. Republican incumbent Gray Conger took 43,804 votes, or 46.6 percent.

In the Superior Court judgeship race, Gil McBride won by some 3,000 votes against Alonza Whitaker. McBride took 44,125 votes, or 51.7 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting. Whitaker took 41,202 votes, or 48.3 percent.

Slater, 42, said she plans to begin the transition process into the District Attorney's office next week.

"I think that 7,000 votes over an incumbent, particularly, says that there's need for a change," Slater said.

Slater plans on starting the process of shutting down her private practice next week. She also will speak with Superior Court Judge John Allen, who will become the next chief judge of the circuit, in the coming weeks.

Slater said she wants to speak to Allen about clearing the criminal case backlog and the overcrowding in the jail.

"I am committed to equal justice for everyone in the circuit," she said. "Justice is served straight across the board."

Conger, 62, said he hasn't decided what he'll do once he leaves office.

"I wasn't planning on this," he said.

Conger was appointed district attorney in 1995 and was first elected into the position the following year. He's served in the office since 1973.


Five out of the six judgeships in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit were up for grabs Tuesday. Out of those five, only one was contested. That seat is held by Chief Superior Court Judge Kenneth Followill, who said months ago he wouldn't seekrun for re-election.

McBride, 42, said he wanted the job because he thinks strongly that someone with a strong civil and domestic background is needed on the bench. McBride, a private attorney who practices civil litigation, said most of the circuit's cases last year were civil or domestic in nature.

"It was a long couple of days culminating in a long night," McBride said. "We're happy. We feel good."

The next tasks on McBride's plate include wrapping up existing cases and talking to sitting judges about what's expected of him.

"I want to get in and be as effective as I can," he said.

McBride has been practicing law in Columbus for 17 years. He grew up in Columbus, then earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from George Washington University. He earned his law degree from Mercer University.

Whitaker, 53, said he ran for the seat because he wants to serve the community and the circuit. He served as an assistant district attorney for 11 years and as a Columbus Recorder's Court and Environmental Court judge. He's currently in private practice and the pastor of Rose Hill Memorial Baptist Church.

Whitaker declined to comment.