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Ott seeks re-election

John Ott

John Ott

COVINGTON -- Chief Superior Court Judge John M. Ott will seek re-election, he announced Wednesday.

Ott was appointed judge in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit in 1990 by former Gov. Joe Frank Harris. Prior to that he served as district attorney and chief assistant district attorney for the circuit.

"I love what I'm doing. I've been very fortunate with my career. We've got an excellent court system here. I think we're known throughout the state as an excellent court system," Ott said.

Ott asked voters to consider his 21-year record on the bench when casting their ballots.

He added that his goal as chief judge will remain "to run an efficient court system, putting the citizens and victims first and foremost while still being fair to the defendants."

Ott is facing opposition in the nonpartisan race for the first time since 1996, from local attorney Stephanie R. Lindsey.

"The great thing about an election is it gets me off the sofa meeting people and reestablishing those connections. That's a positive thing I enjoy," he said.

The two main challenges facing the court system are an increased workload and budget constraints, he said, adding that he is always looking at more efficient means of operating. One example is by working with Sheriff Ezell Brown to incorporate sentences requiring electronic monitoring of prisoners to help alleviate crowding at the local jail.

Ott, 57, was born in Macon, one of seven children, to Bettie and Bill Ott. His father was editor of the Macon Telegraph newspaper. Ott attended public school in Bibb County and graduated high school from Woodridge High School in Peninsula, Ohio, having moved there when his father was transferred to run the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper.

Ott earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Georgia in 1976. He obtained a teaching certificate in English the following year and taught in the Bibb County Public School System for a year.

He received a juris doctor degree from the Walter F. George School of Law in 1981. He was hired as assistant district attorney in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit that same year and became chief assistant district attorney in 1982.

Ott was elected district attorney and took office in 1985, remaining until he was appointed judge in 1990, to fill the unexpired term of retiring Judge Greeley Ellis.

Ott lived in Covington from 1981 to 1982 before moving to Walton County after being appointed chief assistant district attorney. The judicial circuit is split between Newton and Walton counties, and Ott's office was located in Walton.

He moved back to Covington after being appointed judge in 1990. Ott was appointed chief judge following the retirement of Chief Judge Marvin Sorrells in late 2004 and shortly after moved back to Walton County, where his office is again located.

Ott is an appointed representative of the Superior Court judges on the State Council for the Interstate Adult Offender Supervision and the County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council. He is the chair of the Personnel Committee for the Council of Superior Court Judges. In the past, Ott served as administrative judge for the 10th Judicial District of Georgia and on the Executive Council of Superior Court Judges and the Judicial Council of Georgia.

He has handled more than 48,000 cases since taking office in 1990, and more than 500 jury trials. Ott said he has had six trial decisions reversed by appellate courts during his tenure.

"In all other matters, in the 21 years I have been judge, I have only been reversed 20 other times for the decisions I made," he said.

Ott has been married to Lisa Lingner since 1997. He has a daughter, Isabel Ann, a sixth-grader at George Walton Academy, and a stepson, Richard Thomas, who is a junior at Piedmont College. Ott has served on the Walton County Little League Board and been a coach in that county's Little League system as well as coaching in the Newton County Recreation basketball and football leagues. His family currently attends First United Methodist Church of Monroe, where he serves on several committees.

Ott will kick off his campaign with a meet and greet from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 29, in the community room at Turner Lake Complex.