3 Douglas County candidates may not be eligible in November

Romona Jackson Jones will go to trial in August on charges of bid rigging and lying to the GBI. She was suspended from office after her indictment but is running again.

When voters in Douglas County go to the polls for next month’s primary election, they’ll face a decision unlike those in any other Georgia county.

Their ballot lists three people running for reelection who may not even be eligible come November, all because they’re accused of actions that have already landed them in trouble: Former Douglas County Commission Chair Dr. Romona Jackson Jones; Tax Commissioner Greg Baker; and Probate Court Judge Christina Peterson.

Jones and Baker are set to go to trial in August on bid-rigging charges. Jones is also accused of lying to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Probate Judge Christina Peterson is expected to learn her fate after the May primary election.

Peterson faces a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court on whether she should be removed from office. The Judicial Qualifications Commission found she violated the Judicial Code of Conduct 20 times and recommended she be booted from the bench.

"Douglas County right now has an issue with ethical leadership," complained county chairman candidate Tarenia Carthan at a recent meeting with voters. "We all know it. I’m tired of us being on the news."

Carthan made the remarks with her opponent, Jones, standing a few feet away.

"She wasn’t talking about me," Jones told the FOX 5 I-Team.

Dr. Romona Jackson Jones (standing, right) faces Tarenia Carthan (standing, left) for the Democratic nomination for commission chair.

After her indictment in 2023, Gov. Brian Kemp suspended Jones. She’s since been temporarily replaced by retired sheriff Phil Miller.

Caesar Gonzales is also running for the office on the Republican ticket.

The FOX 5 I-Team asked Jones whether she struggled with her decision to run again with the criminal case pending.

"No, I’m good," she said. "I’m an innocent woman 100%, so I’m good. You say I’m a criminal. I’m not a criminal. My parents didn’t raise a criminal." 

At the other end of the room, Probate Judge Christina Peterson held court seeking votes as well, despite some serious baggage on the bench.

The Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission ruled she should be removed from office for a long list of violations, including wrongly tossing a woman in jail for trying to update a marriage certificate with the name of her real father, threatening her homeowner's association, and ignoring courthouse security rules.

The recommendation found "systemic incompetence" in her office and described the judge as "spiteful and vainglorious."

Judge Christina Peterson told voters she modernized the Probate office in her first term.

"Yes, that’s a horrible classification," Peterson told the FOX 5 I-Team. "But you can read the record. It’s available. So we have good faith in the Supreme Court that they’ll read the record and make an actual viable opinion."

The Supreme Court is expected to decide her fate in June, a month after voters must choose between Peterson and challenger Valerie Vie.

Have voters questioned Peterson about the extraordinary recommendation to remove her from office? 

"Everybody who votes knows what’s going on," said Peterson. "And they know it’s political propaganda."

If she is removed from office, Peterson would be barred from seeking another judgeship for seven years.

Tax Commissioner Baker did not show up for the meet-and-greet event. Despite the pending criminal case, no one filed to run against him.

Romona Jackson Jones also read a statement to the FOX 5 I-Team saying, "being falsely accused of something you didn't do is a complete betrayal of justice."

Voters there seemed willing to put aside the scandals.

"The people will make their decision, and they’ll decide whether or not that is a problem for them at all," said Win Roshell.

The candidate forum was sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Sigma Omega Omega Chapter; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Rho Pi Lambda Chapter; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Douglas-Carol-Paulding Alumnae Chapter; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Phi Pi Zeta Chapter and the NAACP, West Metro Branch.