WARNER ROBINS -- With the traditional “all rise” before a judge enters a courtroom, followed by a presentation of the colors by an ROTC color guard and the singing of the national anthem, 10-year felony prosecutor Jason Ashford was sworn in Monday as State Court judge for Houston County.
“It means a lot to me and my family to have you here,” Ashford told the standing-room-only crowd of nearly 200 that packed Courtroom 1 of the State Court building and spilled out into the foyer.
Ashford, 42, former chief assistant district attorney for Houston County, was sworn in by Senior Superior Court Judge L.A. “Buster” McConn- ell. McConnell passed on words of encouragement given to him when he was sworn in by former state Rep. Larry Walker that serving as a judge would transform him into a better public official and person.
Ashford said that if he thanked everyone who helped and supported him in his campaign by name, it would take up the morning. He did take a moment to recognize his wife, Tina, and their 8-year-old son, Ryan; his campaign manager, Gloria Alday, a former Houston County commissioner; his mother, Lois Ashford, who traveled from St. Petersburg, Fla., to attend the ceremony; and former Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke.
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Ashford also credited Houston County Superior Court judges he observed as a state prosecutor for teaching him what it meant to be a judge. In addition, Ashford thanked Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker and commissioners for the remodeled courtroom and promised to take care of it.
He also thanked Bob Richardson, who was not in attendance, for his 25 years of service as State Court judge. Richardson did not seek re-election.
Ashford won the judgeship in the general election Nov. 2, beating out two other contenders: Charles Bond, a Warner Robins attorney, and Fred Graham, a Warner Robins attorney who also serves as municipal judge for the city of Warner Robins.
“The campaign is over,” said Ashford, who pledged to make State Court more customer-service friendly and to improve efficiency. “Now, it’s time to get to work.”
Ashford’s first day on the job was Monday and his first day on the bench is Wednesday.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.