Jones, Wade prepare for probate judge election

Published 6:07 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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The Troup County Probate Office will feature two candidates with different experiences in incumbent Debbie Wade and challenger Leslie Jones.

Wade, the current probate judge, has 25 years’ experience with Troup County, with most of that time in the probate judge’s office.

She first served as chief clerk, then as associate probate judge, then probate judge.  When former Probate Judge L. Gwen Prescott retired in 1999, Wade served as interim judge for 10 months.

Wade was named associate probate Judge in April 2017 and was sworn in as probate judge in June 2018 to fill the unexpired term of Judge Donald W. Boyd upon his retirement. 

Jones has years of experience working with seniors and legacy planning through Southern Life Insurance Group. She also has several degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in political science, masters of arts in teaching from LaGrange College, an educational specialist degree in educational leadership from Columbus State University, and she is working on his doctorate in educational leadership at Auburn University.

Jones said her experience working with seniors understanding the importance of estate legacy and real estate planning will help her if elected. Her degree in political science gave her early aspirations to be a lawyer, but she felt called to be an educator. When she saw the probate position was up for election, she thought it was an excellent way to serve her community.

“That’s when I kind of made the decision after I did all the research on exactly what the position would be and what would be required of me,” she said. “I decided it would be a good fit, and that’s when I decided to run.”

Wade said she’s ready to continue doing the job that she loves.

“It never feels like coming to work when you love your job as much as I do,” Wade said. “I will continue to run the office with the utmost care and respect my customers have learned to expect when dealing with me and the staff of the probate court.”

She admitted there are some challenging days as judge, but she comes to work every day ready to take those situations head-on. She said many constituents are unaware of the many dealings in the probate court, and she is continually studying case law and figuring out the right move.

“You learn new things every single day in the probate court,” Wade said.

She said the good days outweigh the challenging ones, and while many people have jobs where they dread coming to work in the morning or look forward to their days off, that isn’t her situation as an elected official.

Wade said some of the hardest decisions she has to make is deciding how to handle incapacitated adults and making decisions about somebody’s rights.

“It’s a big deal to take someone’s rights away, or say they can’t ever marry or do anything on their own,” Wade said.

Jones said the probate judge is there to make an impartial decision on a case. She said the judge is not there to lean one way or another but to make the best decision for all parties involved with the information given.

“I’ve seen how it can affect people very personally, and I don’t take this lightly at all,” she said. “It is a very big responsibility, and this is a very, very important role.”

As for the election, Jones said she’s not looking at this election as one candidate is better than another. She said the position is based on legal procedures and organization requirements, so there’s not much a person can jump in and change.

“The big thing that I can offer is a different life experience, and a different background as a candidate,” Jones said. “I have a different perspective with everything that I’ve dealt with in business and with people. So, I want to just bring that to the table, and be able to offer my services to the voters of Troup County.”

Wade said if re-elected she is hoping for another employee in the probate office to help handle the flow of businesses more efficiently. She said the staff in the office does a good job as is, but another person could help her be able to cross-train employees.

“I just want voters to know that I love my job, and I’m here for the citizens of Troup County,” she said.