Republican incumbent Natalie Paine and Democrat challenger Jared Williams are on the ballot in the Nov. 3 race for Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney.
The Nov. 3 race for the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney is between two young professionals born and raised in the Augusta area who went off to college and earned law degrees before returning home — Republican incumbent Natalie Paine and Democrat challenger Jared Williams.
Whoever leads the office will be ultimately responsible for the prosecution of new felony cases in Richmond, Burke and Columbia counties and a pending caseload of more than 2,000 cases that range from murder charges involving victims as young as infants and at least one police officer, to those accused of shoplifting and possession of minor amounts of illegal drugs.
What to know about the candidates
Paine and Williams both started their legal careers at the district attorney’s office, Paine in 2009 and Williams in 2013. Paine remained a prosecutor with more than 50 trials and was selected by Gov. Nathan Deal to replace former DA and now Superior Court Judge Ashley Wright in 2017.
Williams left the office after two years and about 20 trials. He moved to Spain to become fluent in the language and taught history, science, arts and English while there. After a few months back at the district attorney’s on his 2017 return home, Williams began criminal defense work with The Hawk Firm.
Soon after becoming district attorney, Paine set in motion the creation of a task force focused on protecting abused and neglected elderly and disabled adults. She also joined Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s to target investigations of suspected gang members.
Throughout her time as a prosecutor, Paine has become a regular at crime scenes, and she’s joined every search for the missing in the community. She volunteers at Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Services, Turn Back the Block, the Community Foundation, and serves on the Chronic Nuisance Enforcement Team.
Paine also got into civil actions as district attorney, stepping in with legal action when the Pendleton King Park was nearly sold off to a developer, and filing action against a hotel owner where sheriff officers were called out 1,600 times in a two-year period.
Williams believes he can bring a new approach to the district attorney’s office that will keep crime down by extending a helping hand instead of handcuffs when faced with first-time offenders accused of non-violent crimes. The criminal justice system is full of repeat offenders, but the cycle can be broken early by helping those first-timers achieve personal responsibility and independence, he has said.
Williams believes the office can be tough on violent crime and major drug cases by assigning attorneys to specialize in certain crimes such as child molestation or homicide. Williams also wants to see more resources devoted to juvenile court, and to invest in new approaches such as offender-victim mediation.
Williams comes from a family dedicated to community service. His parents founded Miracle Making Ministries where he continues to serve the community. He has began volunteering with Bringing Lives and Communities Closer, and he continues to serve Dream Builders of American’s Youth, as well as Project Impact and the Boys and Girls Clubs.