When the Georgia Supreme Court removed former Twiggs County Probate Judge Kenneth Fowler from office in 2010 for alleged misconduct, it barred him from ever seeking or holding an elected or appointed judicial office.
It didnt say anything about county commission chairman.
Fowler is challenging incumbent Commission Chairman Ray Bennett, and he sees his broken leg -- it was snapped in four places in a horse riding accident -- as a bigger obstacle than his tarnished reputation.
The people know Ken Fowler. They know what went on there, Fowler said.
Some of what went on in Fowlers court, according to an investigation by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, was verbal abuse of defendants. In all, the commission levied 20 allegations that included Fowler routinely and wrongfully instructing defendants that they had the burden to prove their innocence, and that the judge operated a slush fund from community service buyouts that he used to purchase items such as trophies and police equipment.
Bennett is not taking his opponent in the July 31 Democratic primary lightly. He described Fowler as still fairly well-respected within the community.
I just have to accept his candidacy at face value, Bennett said. Mr. Fowlers been a member of this community for many, many years.
His difficulties with the state and with the office were unfortunate for the community and unfortunate for him. The end result just reflected on his level of ability to perform his duties. You never want to see that in a public office.
So far, no one has challenged Fowlers candidacy at the county or state level. And there appears to be nothing to challenge.
The qualifications are night and day, said Jared Thomas, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of States Office. You dont even have to be able to read to be county commissioner.
Fowlers candidacy got a mixed reaction on the streets in Jeffersonville and his hometown of Danville recently.
If he can help you, he will, said John Williams Jr.
Raymond Jones, who lives just outside Danville in Wilkinson County, described Fowler as a good man.
He used to run a store over there, across the railroad, with his wife, Miss Wanda, Jones said.
None of Fowlers detractors would give their names. One man said simply, He aint going back in. Another snickered as he climbed in his truck, Yeah, I know him.
Fowler, who had been working as a truck driver before his accident, said he decided to run because the county needs somebody honest.
The biggest issue in Twiggs County is people getting treated fairly and getting something for their taxes, he said. The people of Twiggs County know they can trust Ken Fowler. Itll be a transparent government.
Bennett says the county has a lot of challenges and that maintaining good leadership with some integrity is very important.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.