Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard is picking up an endorsement from former opponent Christian Wise-Smith.
Howard, who is running for reelection, will face his former chief deputy prosecutor, Fani Willis, in a runoff on August 11. Wise-Smith, a former Fulton County assistant district attorney, received 23% of the votes in the June 9 primary, the AJC previously reported. Willis and Howard received 42% and 36%, respectively. Howard is in his sixth term as Fulton County DA.
Wise-Smith told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he met with Howard and Willis weeks before announcing his endorsement and said Howard was receptive of his progressive platform, which included no longer seeking the death penalty and decriminalizing drug possession — issues Howard said he’d pursue if her were reelected.
“Paul Howard embraced a lot of the progressive things on my platform and he’s willing to correct some of the wrongs from the past that he knows he was a part of,” Wise-Smith said, adding Willis wasn’t receptive of changes he wanted during their meeting.
Wise-Smith said he was particularly troubled by the Atlanta Police Union endorsing Willis. “District attorneys are in a position where we work with the police, but our job is to hold them accountable if they go outside the law,” Wise-Smith said. “(The endorsement) sends the message you may not hold them accountable when the time comes.”
Wise-Smith said Howard was also open to a general diversion program, working to restrict marijuana convictions in Fulton County and an internal unit to review allegations of police brutality.
With Black and brown communities concerned about police brutality, Wise-Smith said he hopes whoever wins takes the time to instill changes that benefit residents and communities.
“My biggest concern is making sure we have a justice system in Fulton County that is not conviction hungry, that doesn’t over charge and doesn’t destroy people and communities,” he said. “It’s time for us to shift our justice system to a more restorative justice approach where we’re using our power and resources to help communities break away from the justice system.”
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