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December 31, 2012

The top stories of 2012

Stacy Hunter, Lon Morris, new schools make list

(Continued)

JACKSONVILLE — Patton upsets longtime District Attorney

How did veteran Cherokee County District Attorney Elmer Beckworth lose the Nov. 6 election to challenger Rachel Patton anyway?

Beckworth had the backing, the infrastructure, and years and years and years of practical experience.

These are among the questions being asked by some after a dramatic overturn in which Patton took the election by nearly 60 percent.

Very speculative explanations for how Patton defeated Beckworth include incumbent fatigue, a successful grass roots campaign and even holding onto the coattails of a general GOP landslide into office.

But Patton, as both a Republican and a voter, doesn't put much stock on the landslide theory. She attributes it to the appeal of a district attorney's office without compromise, forever free of political concerns, conflicting loyalties, or jockeying for status.

She's been praised by many, including Democrat Beckworth, for her great success and dogged determination in  prosecuting prosecuting child molestation and harassment cases.

Her prosecutions, like her candidacy, was plain-stated, no-frills, aggressive and effective.  

Beckworth was out of the office at the end of this week, but Patton took a few minutes Friday to discuss what her office will be like come 2013.

"Simply, the mission of the Cherokee County District Attorney's office will always be to see that justice is done," she said. "That is the framework with which we will approach everything we do."

Patton said she and Beckworth have been working on transitioning the office since shortly after the election.

"I am confident that everything will run smoothly January 2," she said.

First up in 2013: Getting getting caught up on the un-indicted cases — the most serious cases-child abuse, murder, aggravated assault that warrant the most serious of attention.

"I sincerely appreciate the confidence the voters of Cherokee County have expressed by electing me District Attorney," she said. "I understand that the District Attorney's office does not belong to me, rather I represent the people of Cherokee County, and I will do so to the best of my ability."

- Ben Tinsley

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