For the first time ever, a formal poll was conducted by the Putnam County Bar Association of all the lawyers in the 13th Judicial District to rate the candidates for district attorney, circuit court judge and criminal court judge.
The circuit court judge race between incumbent Judge John Turnbull and Assistant D.A. Tony Craighead produced no surprises. Eighty-eight lawyers found Turnbull the most qualified while six found Craighead the most qualified. There are 10 assistant DAs and with the DA there are 11 votes in that office. So, Mr. Craighead was not rated the most qualified by his peers. Prediction - Turnbull will win.
In the Criminal court judge's race between Assistant DA Lillie Ann Sells and attorney Phillips Smalling, 26 lawyers found Sells the most qualified while 69 lawyers found Smalling the most qualified. This race seems close at this time.
In the race for district attorney between incumbent Bill Gibson and attorney Mike O'Mara, 12 lawyers rated Gibson the most qualified while 73 lawyers voted O'Mara the most qualified. An analysis reflects that if everyone in Gibson's office thought he was the most qualified, only one lawyer outside the DA's office agreed.
That speaks loudly about the incumbent. Either only one lawyer outside his office thought he was most qualified, or more outsiders thought he was most qualified while some in his office did not. In this situation, if the candidate says he deserves reelection, the voter should be asking "why?" Gibson says to look at his record. Apparently all of the lawyers know his record. And most of them don't practice criminal law. Professionally they have no interest who the DA is. But most of them are concerned about the apparent power grab that the DA's office is attempting to accomplish.