Meet the Candidates: Probate Judge Races
Published 10:24 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024
The election year begins with two local races for Chambers County Superintendent and Judge of Probate, starting with a March 5th The Chattahoochee Humane Society filed a complaint against a sheriff’s deputy for allegedly forcing them to accept three owner-surrender dogs while overcapacity in December. Primary. Two candidates have qualified to run for Probate Judge, incumbent Paul Story and newcomer Troy Davis. Both are running as Republicans.
The function of the Probate Court, according to the Chambers County Government website, is to hear and resolve legal matters including adoptions, wills and estates, guardianships and conservatorships, mental health involuntary commitment cases, etc. The Probate Judge also acts as the election manager for the area.
Paul Story has served as the Chambers County Probate Judge for the last five years, during his first term in the office. He is a native of Chambers County, having graduated from Valley High School. His background is in the medical field, which he said gave him experience with mental health care. Story adds a large number of the cases heard by the court deal with mental health issues.
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Part platform when he first ran for office in 2018 was improving mental health care in the area. Story adds that there is always room for improvement when it comes to the issue of mental health. He is currently on the regional board for mental health, as well as the probate judge committees for mental health and elections.
“That’s what we’re working on currently, is further care for our individuals who suffer from mental health in our area … I just want to see better processes in place for the designation of care,” Story said.
Story was also a two-term council member for the City of Valley, before his current position. He said his experience at the municipal level allowed him to learn the workings of local government.
Story emphasized the need for continual growth and improvement in his office.
The biggest thing is focusing on the betterment of the processes as a whole in the probate office,” Story said. “Something I strive to do with duties is file promptly.”
His term has been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Probate Office was able to stay open throughout the highs and lows of Coronavirus. He praised his staff for their work in keeping the court open and its services available during the difficult period.
During his first term, Story said he was able to integrate new systems in the office. He has also overseen two major election cycles, the 2020 presidential election, and the 2022 gubernatorial races.
As an elected official in charge of elections, there are certain duties Story must abstain from during his campaign as an opposed candidate. If the Probate Judge is running opposed he can not be a part of the poll worker appointing board nor can he travel the circuit on election day to verify polling sites. As an election manager, he can do other things that do not affect the outcome of the election. There will be someone working in his stead for those duties.
While he is technically allowed to oversee the testing of voting machines, Story will also be stepping away from that to “take away the view of impropriety,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed serving in this capacity for the past five years, and with their support and vote, I would like to continue to do so to see a betterment in our area,” Story said.
His opponent, Davis, is a newcomer to politics but a lifelong Chambers County Resident. He also went to Valley High School, and his background is in healthcare. He works in management at Baxter Healthcare as a supervisor.
“Being in a supervisory role will allow me to bring leadership skills into the probate office. It’ll allow me to bring scheduling and planning in there to get job duties done in an adequate timeframe. It will also allow me to do some evaluation and see where some changes need to be made,” Davis said.
An electrician by trade, he said the profession has provided him with transferable skills. Davis said troubleshooting and evaluating problems is a strong suit and something he hopes to bring to the job of Probate Office. He went back to school and is graduating in May with a degree in mechatronics, which encompasses mechanics, electronics, and robotics.
His wife Chelsea Davis, a teacher in Phenix City, said life-long learning is something she not only preaches to her students but something they practice as a family.
“I’m very dedicated. In the job I have, we work 24/7 365. I’ve worked Christmases I’ve worked any type of holiday you can think of, I’ve worked night shift, I’ve worked day shift, with me going school full time I was pulling 12-hour shifts then going to school 8 to 10 hours a week,” Davis said.
He continued, “I feel like the community could feel comfortable with me being in a position with availability, dedication, and just knowing that I’ve got their back at all times … they can always count on me, no matter what the case is.”
Maybe his most unique, and powerful qualifications is his personal history with the Probate Office. Davis and his sister were adopted by his grandparents when he was seven, through the Chambers County Probate Court. He also has a niece going through the child welfare system currently.
“I’ve seen a lot of things in this town. And I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with mental health. I’ve seen kids that need to be in better situations. So it does hit home for me, in that I grew up in those types of environments,” Davis said.
He believes his personal experiences going through the court will be invaluable to the Office of the Probate Judge and those it serves.
“I think that advocating for people to adopt and help kids will be better in our area, you know, and give those kids a home and a chance to make something of themselves and have a good career and be successful,” Davis said.
If elected, Davis said he hopes to implement procedures for DMVs, make adoption processes easier for all parties involved, and advocate for proper mental health treatment in the county.
“that woman right there changed me for the better,” Davis said pointing to his wife and their newborn son. “So if people are happy and have a healthy relationship, I want to see them get married and raise their kids here in our county. I think all of those are great things.