Less than two weeks after Superior Court Judge William M. Fleming Jr. announced his transition to senior status, two more men joined the race to fill his seat.
Area attorney J. David Roper announced Thursday that he will join the race, and Willie Saunders, an Augusta attorney, became the last to file Friday. They will join William "Bill" Williams and Charles "Les" Wilkinson on the ballot to fill the soon-to-be vacant Superior Court judge seat for the Augusta Judicial Circuit.
"I want to present a choice for the voters of Burke, Richmond and Columbia counties," Roper, a Columbia County native, told a group of more than 40 relatives and friends on the steps of the county courthouse in Evans on Thursday morning.
Roper, 59, has practiced law in the circuit since 1973 and is a senior partner of Wilhelmi Haynes LLC, concentrating on corporate and commercial law, commercial real estate, administration of estates and estate planning.
Roper, who earned his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1973, grew up at Roper's Crossroads, at Belair and Columbia roads, where his family ran a grocery store.
"I learned a lot by living at a crossroads," he said. "A crossroads presents choices."
Roper said he has identified two issues on which to focus. He said he wants to maintain the circuit's case assignment system when the court rules are revised early next year. He also plans to take a closer look at Juvenile Court judge appointments.
"The Superior Court judges appoint the Juvenile Court judges, and we have four," Roper said. "I'm quite sure we have never had a black Juvenile Court judge or a woman Juvenile Court judge. If elected, I promise to look into this when the Juvenile Court appointments arrive."
Roper has served as treasurer and director of the Augusta Bar Association and belongs to the state and American bar associations. He has been active in the Rotary Club, serving as the international director from 2002 to 2004.
Williams, 61, has practiced law 35 years since graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1974.
Saunders, 36, graduated from Augusta State University and Widener University School of Law in Delaware. Before opening his own office, he worked in the district attorney's office from January 1996 to August 2003.
Wilkinson, 61, has practiced law for 32 years. The Texas native has been in Georgia since his service in the Army after a tour in Vietnam.
The deadline to qualify to run for the Columbia County school board also was Friday. Lawrence Hammond, District 1 board member Regina Buccafusco and former board member Lee Muns qualified to run for the at-large school board chairman seat. Incumbent Mildred Blackburn and Alma "Sissy" Hobbs qualified to run for the District 2 seat.
Augusta Chronicle reports were used in this article.
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