The appearance of a resolution to ask lawmakers to split up the Alcovy Judicial Circuit was a surprise this month on the Newton County Board of Commissioners agenda.
Their counterparts in Walton County met the same night with no such resolution on the agenda. In fact, there’s been no discussion in Walton County of the matter. And there wasn’t any discussion of it publicly in Newton either until Feb. 2.
Chairman Marcello Banes said the move in Newton County was born from a desire to ease caseloads, and maybe that’s part of it. We suspect the real motivate is that spoken by Commissioner J.C. Henderson, that Newton residents in the past have thought of running for office across the circuit but realized their chances weren’t good when they have to face Walton voters too.
Although Democratic-leaning Newton still has Republican stronghold districts on the eastern side of the county, Walton is almost all-red. And the Newton candidates went 0-for-2 versus Walton opponents last year.
(That said, Gov. Brian Kemp last year appointed two Newton attorneys to the bench in District Attorney Layla Zon and Cheveda McCamy.)
As Rep. Dave Belton of Buckhead said, there are big costs associated with splitting a circuit, and they aren’t in the budget now. This might be a reasonable idea, but it isn’t reasonable now.