May 20, 2014

Buckner defeats challenger Hooper

Murray County Chief Magistrate Gale Buckner won election Tuesday night, defeating challenger Dwayne Hooper, a former part-time magistrate judge.

Buckner received 1,889 votes (58.99 percent) while Hooper received 1,313 votes (41.01 percent). The results are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State. They do not include provisional ballots for votes that need to be verified before being counted.

“I am proudly humbled that the voters of Murray County chose to elect me to the position of chief magistrate to continue the role I’ve had the last 18 months,” Buckner said Tuesday night. “I will continue to perform the duties of chief magistrate for the good of Murray County and the citizens of Murray County. I want to thank everyone who supported me in this campaign .... who came out and voted for me most of all. I’m grateful for their support.”

Buckner was appointed to the position in November 2012 to fill the unexpired term of Bryant Cochran, who resigned after becoming the subject of an ethics inquiry and criminal investigation. Cochran was recently indicted on six federal counts related to planting drugs on a woman’s car, orchestrating her arrest and having others help cover up what happened. He has denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty last week.

Buckner has said she wants to work with local business owners to develop practices to cut down on the number of complaints about bad checks, and wants to work with local landlords on ways to write leases that clearly communicate any stringent terms. She wants to establish a video conference system to allow judges to more quickly hold hearings.

Since taking office, Buckner has worked to establish more trust with the residents of Murray County. She said she found and later disseminated close to $300,000 that had been in a bank account for several years rather than being distributed. She also oversaw the court’s move from the Murray County annex to renovated facilities in the old portion of the Murray County jail.

Buckner, a native of Chatsworth, was an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, was head of the state Department of Juvenile Justice and was a member and chief of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Hooper, who had served as a part-time magistrate judge for 22 years, did not immediately return phone calls Tuesday night.

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