CHEROKEE COUNTY —
Challenger described as ‘well-qualified, vigorous’
Rachel Patton is running for district attorney against longtime incumbent and former boss Elmer Beckworth. Her platform: aggressive, efficient and successful prosecution.
In terms of experience, the 36-year-old Republican is facing a bit of an uphill battle, pitting her eight years in the business against Democrat Beckworth's 30. But she believes she can be successful.
She certainly has made a splash with her Republican contemporaries. She won many hearts and minds earlier this month when appearing before the Cherokee County Republican Club, according to Josie Schoolcraft, one of the vice presidents for the group.
"She is such a well-qualified, vigorous prosecutor," Schoolcraft said. "If you're guilty, she doesn't care who you are. She doesn't care who you are related to or what lawyer you have hired. She is passionately, squarely for the victim. And that's the kind of district attorney I want on the job. Don't you?"
The candidate's "Rachel Patton For District Attorney" Facebook page bills her as an aggressive, effective and experienced felony prosecutor.
Her mission, as listed on that page, is to make the DA's office as dedicated to community safety as possible through vigorous, successful prosecution.
She pledges increased interaction between law enforcement and the DA's office should she be elected, plus improved efficiency to reduce the time for cases to be resolved.
"I will be fair and evaluate cases based on the facts and evidence without regard for loyalties, status, or political concerns," Patton said in a statement.
"One of the first priorities would be to clear up the case backlog, then establish a policy and procedures to prevent the buildup from occurring again," she said.
Patton currently works in private practice. But she worked as an assistant district attorney for five-and-a-half years in Beckworth's office starting in January 2006, Beckworth appointed her first assistant district attorney for the last year and a half she worked in the office.
Schoolcraft said it was very professional of Patton to resign from Beckworth's employ when she did, so as to avoid any conflicts of interest on anyone's part when she started her campaign for DA.
"She's such a wonderful candidate," Schoolcraft said.
While in Beckworth's employ, Patton was a bit of a child advocate, having been extremely successful prosecuting child molestation and harassment cases.
Even Beckworth has given Patton high marks for her work in that regard.
Years ago, he said Patton had always specialized in child defense and had a natural aptitude for that type of work.
"There were some kids she could talk to when law enforcement counselors couldn’t,” Beckworth said previously.
She has successfully prosecuted cases at all levels in both trial and appellate courts – especially child abuse cases.
Patton was born in the state of Georgia and also went to school there. She attended the Mercer University School of Law in August 1999 and graduated in 2002.
Starting her career in Anderson County, Patton was one of four assistants to the district attorney in July 2003.
She traveled Nacogdoches County, where she spent only five months as a prosecutor before coming to Cherokee County in January 2006.
She is married to Kevin Rogers.
They have two children, Aurora, 7, and Evan, 4 and live just outside Jacksonville.