Around Town: Race for clerk of Superior Court is already a three-ring circus
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
June 02, 2012 01:23 AM | 7000 views | 47 47 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATTORNEY JOHN SKELTON has never looked so good. For that matter, he’s never looked quite so much like one of his opponents for Cobb Clerk of Superior Court, Rebecca Keaton. Don’t believe us? Then type in “johnskeltonforclerk.com.” It will take you directly to a web page enlivened not by a picture of candidate Skelton, but that of a beaming Ms. Keaton.

All’s fair in love and war, and apparently, in Cobb politics these days.

The county has rarely seen a competitive race for clerk in the last two decades. But the contest to succeed retiring incumbent Jay Stephenson has already developed into one of the liveliest on the July 31st primary ballot.

“We’re the only three-ring circus in town right now,” quipped Skelton. “It’s like coming over the top of the ‘Goliath’ ride at Six Flags. Here we go!”

***


WHAT HAD BEEN EXPECTED to be a hard-fought battle between Keaton and Skelton took its first unexpected turn during the final hour of the final day of qualifying May 25, when Joan Davis — who ran unsuccessfully three times in the 2000s for Cobb Superior Court judge, and who many had earlier expected would run again this year — qualified to run for clerk. Not only that, but since candidates’ names are listed alphabetically on the ballot, that of Davis would be listed first, and in what is usually a low-profile race that many voters know or care little about.

The twist? Ms. Davis was disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court in February for abandoning a client without telling him she was doing so. So she was ineligible to run for judge. But there’s no law that says the clerk must be a lawyer, or which prevents disbarred lawyers from serving. So Davis is eligible for the clerk’s job.

Even more surprisingly, Davis, who in her judicial contests drew substantial support from her fellow African-Americans, qualified as a Republican for the clerk’s race. (Judicial races are non-partisan, but not so that for clerk.)

Another twist emerged when it came time for Davis to comply with the local requirement that clerk candidates submit to the Cobb Probate Court the name of who their chief deputy would be if elected. The two typically run as a team, even though the name of the deputy does not appear on the ballot, just that of the clerk candidate.

Davis reportedly was unaware of the requirement when she qualified, and then told the Probate Court she would retain Elva Dornbusch, current chief deputy clerk to Stephenson.

Just one problem: Dornbusch is already running as chief deputy to Skelton.

“All I could do when I heard about it was chuckle, but Elva was not pleased at all at having her name hijacked by a candidate she wouldn’t support,” Skelton told Around Town. “She was outraged that Joan would have the audacity to drag her into her campaign. She told me there’s no way she would accept the deputy position from Joan even if Joan won. She said she’d retire first. Joan’s reputation around the courthouse is not positive, and it doesn’t square with (Elva’s) vision of the office. We don’t know how she would run the clerk’s office, but we know how she practiced law, and it was not good.”

THAT WAS NOT THE ONLY development in the final hour of qualifying for the race. Keaton’s pick for deputy clerk was Jason Shepherd, former attorney for the Cobb Republican Party, whose name she originally submitted to the Probate judge. But with the clock ticking down last Friday, she unexpectedly resubmitted her paperwork, dropping Shepherd and substituting Kimberly Carroll, longtime administrative assistant for Cobb Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs.

Shepherd said the decision “was not expected and came as a bit of a shock.”

Shepherd was briefly the subject of controversy late in his 2010 attempt to unseat incumbent state Rep. Terry Johnson (D-Fair Oaks) after the Georgia Democratic Party unearthed documents showing the challenger had been arrested a decade earlier on a domestic violence charge. Shepherd explained that the accusation was made by a girlfriend who was angered by his attempt to break off their relationship. The charges were dropped when Shepherd volunteered to enter counseling, Johnson went on to narrowly defeat Shepherd 53 percent to 47 percent.

If that factored into Keaton’s decision, she wasn’t saying so.

“Kimberly has been employed with Judge Grubbs for over 20 years with approximately 15 years of that experience in Superior Court,” she told AT. “As a result, she is extremely familiar with the Clerk’s office and its staff. I needed someone of her personality and talents on my ticket. There is no one more liked, more trusted or more qualified, than Kimberly.”

Shepherd also told AT that after Davis qualified, Keaton told him she needed to “do something different.”

“With that, Rebecca decided to swap the roles she wanted for me and Kimberly. Her original plan was to have me as chief deputy and Kimberly as deputy clerk,” said Shepherd, who said he still supports Keaton’s candidacy. He added that he found out about the switch four hours after it had taken place.

Meanwhile, Skelton told AT Keaton had offered him the chief deputy job in mid-May.

“It was in a face-to-face conversation after the Cobb County Republican Women’s Club Luncheon at the Marietta Conference Center on May 18. I was pretty surprised at the offer, to say the least,” he told AT.

***


BUT BACK to the ostensible “Skelton for Clerk” website. Skelton told AT that when trying to set up a campaign website this winter, he learned the “JohnSkeltonforClerk.com” was already taken.

“There are other John Skeltons around, but I thought the odds of there being another John Skelton running for clerk somewhere were pretty steep,” he said. “Then when I clicked on it, it took me directly to her site.”

(For the record, her official site is www.rebeccaforclerk.com.) And her move was perfectly legal, he said.

“I admired her pluck,” he told AT. “Would I have done it that way? No. That’s where we differ. I’ll just let it speak for itself.”

He wound up with a campaign site that incorporates his middle initial: www.johnhskeltonforclerk.com. And he has taken it all in stride.

“This way, I get all the name recognition from both sites!” he said.

***


ONE OF COBB’S best-remembered educators, Kermit Keenum, was back in town this week with wife, Billie, for the high-school graduations of two of their grandchildren. Keenum got his start as a teacher in the Marietta system, later was principal at North Cobb High and then helmed the Cobb superintendent from 1973-80 and again from 1989-92.

Keenum eventually retired to Booneville in northeast Mississippi, where he had grown up as one of seven children of a subsistence-level farmer.

Along the way he helped found a successful bank and several other businesses. He’s now finishing a memoir that should be on the shelves by year end, with the title, “From Sharecropper to Shareholder in One Generation,” he told AT.

***


THE COBB COUNTY CIVIC COALITION will hold a forum for Cobb Commission chair candidates from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday July 10 in the Commissioners Meeting Room, 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta, reports President Ron Sifen. ...

The MDJ’s Joe Kirby is speaking this morning to the Experimental Aircraft Association at Briscoe Field in Lawrenceville about his new book, “The Lockheed Plant.”

BARN DANCE: U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) is hosting what is being billed as the first “Conservative Family Roundup and Barn Dance” from 5 to 8 p.m. this evening at the barn at Rustix Manor in Woodstock, the spread owned by Steve Marcinko. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) are also expected to attend.

***


FUNERAL SERVICES are today for the late John W. Edwards, 88, of Marietta. The Kentucky native, one of 11 children, was born in a log cabin and later graduated from Duke University.

He spent most of his career working for Lockheed, where he was deputy design engineer on the C-5A and B.

His wife, the late Juanelle Edwards, served for years as a member of the Democratic National Committee and was never at a loss for words — most of them pointed — with which to describe Republicans. Her wit graced the pages of the MDJ many times in the late 2000s and led publisher Otis Brumby Jr. to christen her Cobb’s “Lewis Grizzard in pantyhose.”

Also memorable was the morning when, after failing to receive her MDJ, she dialed the newsroom and (perhaps) jokingly asked for someone to “just read it to me.”
Comments
(47)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Den of Thieves
|
June 09, 2012
It's too bad there aren't some type of integrity or ethical requirement for those who run for office. Keaton HAS run for public office before. She is as low down as low can get. Ask retired Judge Carlisle. She's so low that she stinks. Are there any honest people in politics!And she was very dishonest in the way she practiced law as well. But for luck, she, also, would be disbarred. You need to hold your nose when you're around her.
James Greek
|
July 26, 2012
I also saw that she was my mther's attorney during a lengthy court case. That lasted like a year, I think she screwed my mom over. I'm not really sure. But I have a feeling she did. I never got to ask my mom before she ded.

anonymous
|
June 08, 2012
Hey it's not hard for web administrator to create a web page then have it direct to another web site. Just saying.
Voting For Skelton
|
June 08, 2012
Was a Keaton supporter; but not anymore. Keaton keeps company with that nut job, JoEllen Smith. Now this?

Rebecca, you are known by the company you keep; I'm voting for John Skelton.
lessons 101
|
June 05, 2012
Shame on you Mr. Skelton and your family for attending Congressman Phil Gingrey fundraiser last saturday wearing you campaign tee shirts.

First of all it was NOT your fundraiser and all the other candidates including the high profile ones who attended weren’t there campaigning for support like you crew did.

We true “republican” were there for the right reasons and that was in of support Congressman Gingrey. Your chief deputy clerk should have giving you campaign lessons 101

anonymous
|
June 05, 2012
Wow that's integrity for y'a, sure don't want that I Cobb County.
COBB GOPPER
|
June 05, 2012
I don't know about that. Keaton was pressing the flesh for her campaign at Phil's event as well. So Skelton who has never run for anything makes a rookie mistake and a campaign faux pas. That hardly speaks to a lack of "intregrity." Maybe if this was Keaton's first campaign and not her 101st, she would be making the same kind of mistakes.
Cobb Native
|
June 05, 2012
Lessons, did Ms. Keaton pay you to post that? She and Ms. Davis are a combined 0-8 in past elections. Must be a pretty good reason why they've yet to win an election if you ask me. John Skelton is a first time candidate, so maybe he will make a mistake or two (yes, he's human just like everyone else), but if he's elected, he will do a great job with that office and serve our county proudly. Now come on down off that high horse.
Grammar queen
|
June 06, 2012
Maybe you should take grammar 101
Beware of Keaton
|
June 06, 2012
Keaton is part of the Legacy Park Mafia - this is typical behavior of that crowd. Dishonest, underhanded and just low; and she is a judge? Wow! Sad, sad, sad.
Cobb Native
|
June 09, 2012
For the record, Keaton is NOT a judge. She has repeatedly tried to get elected to the bench, but she has yet to win. You can draw your own conclusions from that. Several of the folks listed as her supporters on her website aren't even going to vote for her. Wow! This really is a circus thanks to Keaton and Davis's actions.
Mary Miller
|
June 14, 2012
I think its great that all REPUBLICANS stick together. I am sure Congressman Phil Gingrey was not insulted at all and glad that ALL REPUBLICANS are standing up together in this community. Lets dont play games during such a critical election year!
anonymous
|
June 05, 2012
Ok let me get this right, in the beginning Ms. Elva Dornbusch was running for Cobb County Superior Court Clerk and Mr. Skelton was her Deputy; however, for health reasons Ms. Dornbusch stepped down and Mr. Skelton ran for Cobb County Clerk Superior and in-turn Ms. Dornbusch became Mr Skelton's Deputy Clerk (if Ms. Dronbusch health was bad for running for Clerk, I guess its good enough for Deputy Clerk...right) so time comes for filling for the position at election office and we get Joan Davis who throws her hat in the race and lo and behold Ms. Dornbusch is ALSO Ms. Davis deputy Clerk (Really).

Now we have Mr. Skelton's web site been hack....Really Mr. Skelton I think your attempt to draw attention away from you because YOUR Deputy is on two tickets, blaming Ms. Keaton for your hacked web site is really low. My vote goes to Ms. Keaton
courthouse worker
|
June 05, 2012
@ anonymous You are sadly misguided
@ anonymous
|
June 05, 2012
Did you read the article thoroughly?! Ms. Davis announced Ms. Dornbusch as her Deputy WITHOUT Ms. Dornbusch's permission to do so! Ms. Dornbusch wants nothing to do with Ms. Davis.
Cobb Native
|
June 05, 2012
Anonymous, you might want to go read that article again. Elva is running with John, NOT Ms. Davis. That hijack job had nothing to do with Elva and was a purely desparate move by Joan Davis. I worked for Elva at the Clerk's Office several years ago. She runs a tight ship, but she also cares for her employees and is not politically motivated at all. Still voting for Skelton here. No brainer in my book. Keaton and Davis would destroy what is a really fine office in our county.
Bob0016
|
June 04, 2012
AT reporters should dig deeper and connect more dots for their readers. If they did they would learn and share interesting facts about Keaton, such as, her first running mate wasn't even a Cobb County citizen and her second running mate, chosen right after African-American Joan Davis qualified, is African-American. Blatant demagoguery on Rebecca Keaton's part. How shameful.
COBB GOPPER
|
June 05, 2012
Bob0016 - Rebecca Keaton's first running mate was Jason Shepard. As the article says, he was the Cobb GOP attorney. Also, he is her campaign Treasurer and is listed on the campaign registration with a Marietta address. He would also have to be a Cobb resident to have ran for State House in Cobb in 2010. Unless he moved out of Cobb between then and now and did not tell anyone, I don't think you even know what you are talking about.
tyler durden
|
June 04, 2012
wow. that's alot of controversy for a position that is basicially a glorified legal secretary. I love cobb.

...hi big fish...well, hello there tiny pond....
Cobb RealEstate Atty
|
June 04, 2012
On the contrary, Tyler, the Clerk of Superior Court handles all the real estate records in Cobb County (over 165,000 filed in 2011 alone), all the Superior Court civil and criminal case files, and many other duties including issuing and renewing notary public licenses, generating jury lists, registering trade names, and so forth. The Office handles over $50 million of other people's money each year in the form of fines, bonds, and payments into the registry of the court.

The Clerk of Superior Court is a very important job especially in a county with as large a population as Cobb.
tyler durden
|
June 09, 2012
My legal secretary is important too, but the Clerk's job is her job, just with a larger volume and staff...I mean, the word 'Clerk' is right in there...check it out, it's the first word in the title.

Anywho, I just enjoy the sport of watching self important Cobb politicians....sorry I crashed the party...please continue...
Mike O. Bedenbaugh
|
June 03, 2012
I was glad to see you mention Kermit Keenum in this article as I have known him from the late sixties and think he and Alton Crews did a fine job as Superintendent of Cobb County School District. Too bad we can not get this caliber of superintendent anymore. Just like to say hello Kermit and can not wait to see your book. Best of luck friend.
Missing comments
|
June 03, 2012
Comments (8). It's only four to read - so where are the other four? Too strong?
anonymous
|
June 03, 2012
Another race that is beginning to generate some interest involves Gene Clark. He took the podium at the Republican breakfast on Saturday and began to loudly rant that he was not a Democrat. You could see the crowd begin to snicker when he admitted that he had given Roy Barnes $5,000 to his campaign 2 years ago. Clark then tried to justify his donation by claiming that he also gave Nathan Deal $5,000.

Smells like campaign season has started in earnest.
New Skelton Voter
|
June 03, 2012
anonymous, sounds like between Ms. Keaton's running mate and Mr. Clark's donations, we have some Democrats trying to sneak their way into the Cobb judiciary.
East Cobb Voter.
|
June 04, 2012
I agree that Ms. Keaton appears to be a Republican In Name Only (RINO) when you see who she chose to pick a known democrat to run on her on her ticket.

Regarding Mr. Clark, I thought he was a Democrat member of the General Assembly back in the 80's so what is the big deal? I do remember he helped my friend Senator Steve Thompson(D) with his campaign about 10 - 12 years ago (apologies to my GOP friends).
Jack 2012
|
June 06, 2012
After hearing about Mr. Clark yelled at the GOP breakfast that he gave $5,000 to Governor Barnes and Governor Deal, I would like to see this record. Where does one go to look up this kind of information?
Cobb Native
|
June 03, 2012
I have known Mr. Skelton for a long time and I can assure anyone who plans to vote on July 31 that he is the right choice to be the next Clerk of Superior Court. He is a great man and he would not go into that office looking to fix things that are not broken. The Cobb Clerk's Office has the reputation for being one of the best run offices in the state. He has worked in that office on both the real estate and criminal/civil sides of Waddell Street, so he knows how things work in every area of that office. His opponents have both run for SEVERAL offices and have never won, so what makes you think either of them would make a good clerk. Shoot, Ms. Davis can't even represent her own clients any more. Why should she even be on the ballot? I'm not sure. John Skelton will be getting my vote in July and he deserves yours as well.
LOW LOW
|
June 04, 2012
Mrs. Keaton how low can you go!! We all know now why you have never been elected to public office in numerous tries. You are a joke. Voters beware she will scam us too.
Skelton's got it
|
June 04, 2012
My family and I support John Skelton for Superior Court Clerk. He's smart, dedicated and will put the needs of the citizens of Cobb Co. first. Keaton's silly, childish antics with re-directing voters away from John Skelton's website speaks directly to her questionable character and lack of maturity. John Skelton for Superior Court Clerk.
helpful info
|
June 03, 2012
After sorting through the stories here I've decided to give my vote to Mr. Skelton. I'd never consider supporting Ms. Davis. Reading of Ms. Keaton's attempts to hijack Mr. Skelton's name has made me think much less of her. Thanks guys...one more decision made. :)
imeanwhatever
|
June 05, 2012
I agree. Keaton purposefully misappropriated Skelton's name for her own gain. If I was Keaton, I would have both sued and filed an ICANN complaint. In the court action, I would have filed for an injunction to have Keaton remove the name and for attorney's fees for the costs of bringing the suite. I also would have filed a DMCA takedown notice to start the penalties accruing.
Cobbresidentchris
|
June 02, 2012
MY family and I will all be voting for John Skelton. He is an honest person, and will lead the clerk's office well.
Surprised Voter
|
June 02, 2012
After attending the Cobb GOP breakfast and hearing Ms. Keaton's comments this morning about her opponents, I thought she is someone I would consider voting for - that changed with the MDJ's Around Town and other comments posted here. It may be legal what she did with John Skelton's name to benefit her campaign, but she stepped over the line as being ethical. How she handled the issue with Jason Shepherd shows she is willing to win at any cost. I wonder how she can explain this to her constituents but more importantly to her family. I will now support John Skelton. Thank you Ms. Keaton for helping me make the right choice for Cobb Clerk of Superior Court.
Me too
|
June 04, 2012
Ms. Keaton's silly antics will fall into the "whatever happened to old what's her name?" bin. Cobb County deserves the best candidate if it wants to continue "expect the best".
History Repeats
|
June 05, 2012
I believe Ms. Keaton had ethical issues in some of her past election attempts as well. Surely there is a paper trail there. Go with the candidate that hasn't been a career election version of the Washington Generals....that's Mr. Skelton in case you weren't sure.
Just call me naive
|
June 02, 2012
Wow, really?? I tried several combinations like "skeltonforclerk", "skelton4clerk", "skeltonforsuperiorcourtclerk", "johnskelton4clerk", "jskeltonforclerk", "jskelton4clerk" and they all went to Keaton's site... Classy.

OK, it's politics, so I shouldn't be surprised. But I applaud Skelton for taking the high road.
New Skelton Voter
|
June 02, 2012
I was a big supporter of Ms. Keaton in this race. I got to know her through the Republican Party where I also got to know Mr. Sheperd. I was disappointed when I heard about the switch on her campaign, but figured Ms. Keaton must have known what she was doing. So I went to check out this Kimberly Carroll lady since I've never met her and Ms. Keaton obviously speaks very highly of her. I found her Facebook page pretty quickly and was shock to see she belonged to groups supporting all Democrats, including Obama. I thought this was the REPUBLICAN Primary and Ms. Keaton picks an Obama supporter as her running mate? Where can I get a John Skelton sign?
John Skelton
|
June 02, 2012
You can pick up a sign at GOP headquarters, 799 Roswell St.
Darth Bunny
|
June 02, 2012
There are a lot of great things about Rebecca. Campaigning is just not one of them.
West Cobb Conservati
|
June 02, 2012
I would have voted for Skelton except for his having Ms. Dornbusch on his ticket. Now my vote goes to Keaton.
Ms. Dornbusch
|
June 04, 2012
Ms. Dornbusch will bring continuity of our very capable Jay Stephenson's tenure at the Cobb Co. Superior Court Clerk's Office forward to the furture. John Skelton is the right choice.
NO Keaton for me
|
June 02, 2012


"ATTORNEY JOHN SKELTON has never looked so good. For that matter, he’s never looked quite so much like one of his opponents for Cobb Clerk of Superior Court, Rebecca Keaton."

Ms. Keaton - how desperate and tacky can one be?

Great column in today's MDJ - keep up the great work.

James C.
|
June 02, 2012
From this article, we've learned that of the three running for Superior Court Clerk:

John Skelton is the only one who doesn't play dirty politics.

John Skelton is the only one who isn't a career campaigner.

John Skelton has a sense of humor and is good natured.

Thanks for the info, Around Town! I now know who I'll be supporting for Clerk.

NW Cobber
|
June 02, 2012
This article also helped me to decide. Agree with James C. I'm very impressed with Skelton's integrity.
dustoff
|
June 04, 2012
Having worked with Mr. Skelton on several cases will I was employed with the County, I have to say he does not let politics into his cases, nor did he bow down to anyone.

I know who I am voting for.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides