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DA Burke to resign, seek Houston commission chairman seat

WARNER ROBINS — Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said Tuesday that he plans to resign, effective March 15, to seek the Houston commission chairmanship.

Burke, who is in the middle of his fourth four-year term as the county’s head prosecutor, said he plans to run because of “the lack of someone else to step up and take on the challenge.” The current administration, led by Chairman Ned Sanders, just doesn’t “get it,” he said.

Upon Burke’s resignation, Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason Ashford would assume the role of acting Houston district attorney until Gov. Sonny Perdue appoints someone to fill the vacancy.

Burke announced a few weeks ago that he was considering making a bid for the job, but a recent memo from Sanders about next year’s budget pushed him to run, he said. Burke said the memo described a number of budget cuts the county could implement to save money, most of which “stick it to the employees.”

Burke said he has 20 ideas to save money, and none rest on the backs of the employees. The ideas are posted on this Web site, www.movinghoustonforward.com, which was active Tuesday afternoon.Burke said he also is frustrated about the lack of services for youth.

“This county commission chairman and his colleagues have built roads and county buildings out the wazoo, but they haven’t built a single rec center, they haven’t built a single playground, they haven’t built a single park in 20 years,” Burke said.

Sanders, who previously announced his intention to run for re-election, has held the chairmanship since 2000. He said he has expected Burke to step down to begin building a private law practice, something Burke discussed with him several weeks ago.

Sanders welcomes the challenge from Burke for the chairmanship but said he is concerned if Burke thinks he can run the county splitting time between the Government Annex and a private law practice.

“I’ve done this job for almost 10 years,” Sanders said. “Someone trying to come in and manage a county of about 137,000 people on a part-time basis with as progressive and dynamic a county as this ... would not be able to effectively do it.”

Burke said he would work in private practice while he was running for the position but not if elected.

Sanders, who rolled off a handful of meetings with department heads to work on the budget and various projects over the next few days, said the job can’t be put off on other county administrators.

Sanders said he intends to see all his projects to fruition, including in-progress road projects funded through a 2001 special purpose local option sales tax.

To contact Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.

To contact Marlon A. Walker, call 256-9685.

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