The Augusta Judicial Circuit, comprised of Columbia, Richmond and Burke counties, is having a hotly-contested district attorney race that could be close. Incumbent Republican District Attorney Natalie Paine is facing off against Democrat attorney Jared Williams. One recent policy issue dividing the two candidates is that Paine signed a pledge not to “defund the police” while Williams refused.

Augusta DA Natalie Paine

Paine said signing the “police pledge” shows her longstanding support for law enforcement. It is a nationwide pledge pushed by the Washington-based Heritage Action to oppose any legislation, resolution or movement to defund the police. “There’s a movement afoot to not only disrespect and undermine our men and women in uniform, but to actually defund police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country,” Paine says. “This radical agenda is absolutely insane and must be stopped.”

The Democrat candidate claims Paine’s pledge is misguided because Georgia sheriff’s offices are somehow protected from funding cuts. But local Augusta news outlets have reported that is debatable. A County Commission, for example, could vote to shift monies away from law enforcement into other sectors in their county budgets.

Williams also picked a fight with voters who supported Donald Trump for president in 2016. A screenshot of a Nov. 10th 2016 Facebook post by Williams shows him hurling insults not just at the newly-elected president, but toward all of his voters. “Y’all are idiots,” he declared. “No, let me dial that back. Y’all are racists. You’re misogynists. You hate gay people…” And so forth.

Interestingly, Burke County has a Democrat African-American sheriff who strongly endorses the Republican DA based on her record, which includes tough prosecution against criminal gangs. Predominantly Democratic Richmond County’s black Sheriff Richard Rountree endorses political ally Williams. In GOP-leaning Columbia County, white GOP Sheriff Clay Whittle endorses Paine.


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