WARNER ROBINS — Rabb Wilkerson, 41, a Warner Robins attorney, was tapped by the governor Monday to serve as Houston County district attorney until the special election Nov. 2.
Wilkerson was one of three candidates, all Republicans, to qualify earlier this month for the special election. The others were Arthur Creque, 43, chief assistant solicitor for State Court in Houston County and George Hartwig, 51, chief assistant district attorney for Houston County.
The governor made the announcement late Monday afternoon in a news release.
In a previous Telegraph interview, Bert Brantley, the governor’s spokesman, said that should the governor exercise his right to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Kelly Burke, the appointment would only be until the post was filled during the special election.
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Wilkerson, a life-long resident of Houston County, said it was a great honor to receive the appointment from Sonny Perdue, also a Houston County native.
Wilkerson said he expects to be sworn in at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the governor’s office.
“I think that it helps that the governor has entrusted me with this position,” Wilkerson said when asked if the appointment will help him at the polls.
Wilkerson noted that the appointment gives him the opportunity to show the voters that he can do the job.
Wilkerson declined comment on the employment status of challenger Hartwig, who serves in the No. 2 position at the Houston County District Attorney’s Office, as well as that of Jason Ashford, who has been serving as district attorney since shortly after the mid-term resignation March 15 of Burke. Ashford, who is seeking the post of Houston County State Court judge, assumed the district attorney’s post by function of law.
Wilkerson noted that it was only fair to both Hartwig and Ashford not to make any comments about such issues until he has an opportunity to speak with them.
Hartwig noted that he remains “100 percent committed” to the district attorney’s race.
“I’m going to stay in the race and run for office even with this new development,” Hartwig said.
Ashford stopped short of saying whether or not the news meant he would no longer have a job with the district attorney’s office, saying he didn’t want to comment on that.
“Being district attorney is a demanding position. Running for office while you are district attorney is doubly demanding,” Ashford said. “What the governor has done has allowed me to focus on my race for State Court judge.”
Ashford said he looked forward to the transition and to talking with Wilkerson.
Creque, the other contender for the district attorney’s post, also was undaunted by the governor’s appointment.
“I called Rabb and wished him well and told him I’d see him on the campaign trail,” Creque said. “I don’t think it (the governor’s appointment) will affect my campaign one bit.”
In a prepared statement, Wilkerson said he is looking forward to working closely with law enforcement to make sure the county is a safe place to live and raise a family.
He also pledged cooperation with community resources to address underlying issues of drug abuse, as well as promising to ensure that crime victims receive support to understand legal proceedings involved with a case.
According to the governor’s news release, Wilkerson is an experienced trial attorney, specializing in criminal, domestic, personal injury and general civil litigation. He served as the Houston County Bar Association’s vice president in 2007 and as president in 2008. Wilkerson served on the Rainbow House Children’s Resource Center’s board of directors from 1997 to 2002, the release said.
He’s also been an administrative hearing judge for the Houston County Sheriff’s Office since 2008. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and later a law degree from Mercer University, the release said. He and wife Angela have a daughter, Ella.