Muscogee County Solicitor General switches parties; this could be a good race

Muscogee County Solicitor General switches parties; this could be a good race

By Kirsten J. Barnes

For the last ten years, Suzanne Goddard has held the Office of Muscogee County Solicitor General. She ran as a Democrat, but this year, she qualified for reelection as a Republican.

“I did switch parties. I qualified as a Republican this year,” Goddard said. “One of the reasons I switched was because of the border and the other is that the Democratic Party principals don’t align with my principals.”

Still, she admitted she has been a registered Democrat since she first registered to vote. 

“I have had a lot of positive responses to my running as a Republican. I think it will be a close election, but I think with my background, people will vote for me,” she said.

Her Democratic opponent is retired Army veteran and Columbus attorney Shevon Thomas.

“She is a registered Democrat and she qualified as a Republican. That speaks volumes about her integrity. She is deceiving people to get votes,” said Thomas. “What exactly are you?” 

Thomas said he is running for office because he believes the office is underutilized and could do more to rehabilitate people within the disposition of misdemeanor cases.

“There has not been a jury trial in state court in over 10 or 15 years, and if there has been it’s probably just one,” Thomas said. “I want the citizens to be aware of their right to be tried by a jury of their peers, a jury of six because they are misdemeanors.”

Under the current sentencing guidelines for general misdemeanors, those convicted can be given up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 fine and/or community service, while high and aggravated misdemeanors are punishable for up to 12 months in jail and/or fines up to $5,000 and/or community service.

Thomas believes that instead of being ordered to pick up trash as community service, people should be ordered to spend that time completing a GED, getting certification in a trade, or licensure area. 

“Why give someone 80 hours of community service to pick up trash, when I could give them hours to qualify for a trade so they can get employment,” Thomas said. “The office lacks vision and I’ve spoken to enough people to know that people want change. It’s not about throwing someone in the county jail. I’m about education, jobs, and reform to change people’s lives to make it better.”

Still, Goddard said her track record of creating a Mental Health Court to “divert the mentally ill from prosecution and generally my experience in this office” will persuade people to continue to vote for her despite her new party ties.

“I think they should re-elect me because of the job I am doing. I have been the solicitor general for 10 years and have worked in this office for 27. I know the office and I have been working in it,” Goddard said. “It is not usually one for on-the-job training.”

Still, Thomas said the current office does not utilize technology to adjudicate cases and forced a soldier now stationed in Mississippi to spend more than $1000 to travel to Columbus for a court hearing where she was fined $200-to-$300, which could have been handled via Zoom.

“We need to use common sense approaches to help people in the community,” Thomas said. “I don’t know everything, but I am willing to listen to you who are affected. I am willing to get ideas from you who are affected. No one in town knows who the solicitor is, and if elected, I will change that. I will let myself and my staff be open to the people who the office serves.”



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