Race for Chatham County District Attorney gets heated - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Race for Chatham County DA gets heated

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Meg Heap, Larry Chisolm Meg Heap, Larry Chisolm

Larry Chisolm and Meg Heap worked together as prosecutors under former district attorney Spencer Lawton. Now, the two former coworkers are on opposite sides of the playing field. They're running against each other for the top position.

"This race is about crime," explained opponent Meg Heap. "It crosses all boundaries. It's not about political party, its not about race, its about people being victimized in this community."

Heap left the district attorney's office two years after Larry Chisolm took control. She says their priorities were not the same. Heap also said she wasn't the only one to leave.

"I think when you have 51 out of 82 criminal prosecutors leave it's playing out. Its playing out in the loss of cases," she said. "That's all the community cares about, that we do our job and make it a safer community."

But according to current district attorney Larry Chisolm, his record speaks for itself.

"When we've taken the felony cases to trial, for example, we have more than a 90 percent conviction rate," Chisolm said. "You can't do much better than that as a prosecutors office."

Chisolm also said since he took office, he's cut down a back log of misdemeanor cases from 2700 to 300. And, he said, that number is getting lower.

"We estimate we save the citizens of Chatham County about $2 million a year, every year that I've been here, in jail costs because we're moving those cases so much faster and people are not sitting around in jail, waiting for trial," he explained.

Both candidates agree the district attorney's office needs to move violent crime cases through the courts quicker. But which candidate will make that happen is up to the voters.

"I'm running for district attorney for the same reason I left office," explained Heap. "I think the priority of bringing justice for victims is gone. The priority of prosecution of cases is gone. When I take office, I'm going to see where we lack, see where we need training, and hopefully bring back some experienced prosecutors."

"I think that I have delivered the promises that I made when I ran for election back in 2008," said Chisolm. "I think we've had a very, very successful office. Based on my record, based on my delivering the promises that I made to the people four years ago, I have earned the right to have another term."

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