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20 Under 40: District attorney hyper-focused on ensuring his office does good job

He’s working to make a difference.

John “Herb” Cranford, 33, is a third-generation lawyer who now serves as the district attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit, which includes Troup County. As a Newnan High School graduate, Cranford remembers football games against LaGrange teams, and now, he gets to serve the community that he has known his entire life.

“I enjoy it,” Cranford said. “I can’t think of any other job that has the impact that being a prosecutor has. Being the DA, we deal with the most serious things going on in the community — violent crime, sex crime, abuse of children — and that is a difficult job to do with that kind of subject matter regularly, but it is very impactful.”

Cranford was sworn in by Gov. Nathan Deal in February 2018, filling the spot once occupied by his mentor — Pete Skandalakis.

“I went to Georgia undergrad and pursued my interests at Georgia, so I was a religion major,” Cranford said. “I decided to go to law school, and in law school I interned for Pete Skandalakis [who was the district attorney at the time] in the Coweta office. That was just a great experience, so that confirmed for me that I wanted to be a prosecutor. So, I applied for a job with Pete out of law school, and he hired me in 2012.”

Cranford worked under Skandalakis until 2018, when Skandalakis became the director of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

When Cranford isn’t at work, he enjoys cheering on his alma mater’s football team.

“I like Georgia football, so I go to football games in the fall, when I can,” Cranford said. “I try to go to the spring game, but I’m pretty focused on work. I have been since Pete hired me.”

Cranford said that taking on the job has meant stepping back from some of the commitments that he took on previously in order to give his full attention to the people who need his office.

“When I was an assistant DA, I served on a couple of nonprofit boards in Coweta, and I rolled off of those the last year or so,” Cranford said. “I made the decision that I needed for this job to be the sole focus as a new DA.”

Cranford said that he would like to begin working with area nonprofits again in the future, but he felt that his most important contribution he can make to the community is ensuring that his office does a good job.

— Story and photos by Alicia B. Hill