The forum, held at Stone Creek Inn in Cedartown, was hosted by the Republican Women of Polk County and included questions from a variety of conservative groups.
Incumbent District Attorney Robert Brooks and challenger Jack Browning started off the event by talking about their experience, ties to the Republican Party, and management styles.
Brooks, a native of Polk County, said he is a lifelong Republican and helped organize the first Republican chapter in Polk County in 1980. He served as the first chairperson, he said.
Browning, from Haralson County, evaded the question of his Republican ties. He said he supports Republican principals, but doesn’t feel party affiliation is important to completing the tasks of a district attorney.
Both agreed that part of the job includes making sure the laws and rules of evidence, questioning and investigation are followed. Both said they have a duty to make sure Constitutional rights aren’t violated during a judicial process.
However, the two men differ on how involved a district attorney should become in cases.
“I will have a caseload. I will handle cases,” Browning said. “You will see me in the courtroom trying cases.”
Brooks said his role as district attorney is to oversee the office, make sure the work gets done properly and within budget. He said his assistant district attorneys are good at their jobs and he trusts them to handle all the cases.
Brooks also clarified a statement he made previously about hiring another assistant district attorney.
“I said maybe I would hire another in a few years when the economy gets better,” he said.
The two men also spoke about how each would handle the job. While Brooks said he has “made great strides” in connecting with law enforcement and would continue to build that bridge, Browning said he would move cases through the system more quickly and get tougher sentences for violent offenders.
He said he could get convictions because of his trial experience.
“When you focus on something, and it’s all you do, you become quite good at it,” he said.
Brooks said he also had trial experience, but a good district attorney also needs administrative skills. He said no candidate could promise tougher sentences on convicted criminals.
“It’s not us. There’s a person on the bench who decides what the sentence is,” Brooks said.