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Stephen Yekel running for state court judge in runoff
Stephen Yekel
Judge Stephen Yekel

Special to the Herald

Thank you sincerely to all those who supported my candidacy for State Court Judge in 2022. Winning by a margin of over 1,400 votes was a testament to the trust and confidence placed in me by the community. However, the vacancy left by the resignation of the previous State Court Judge required Governor Kemp to appoint me into the position on June 22, 2022, ahead of my anticipated term starting in January 2023. Consequently, I am now obliged to stand for election in the Non-Partisan Primary in 2024, instead of 2026.

During my term as your State Court Judge, I've strived to make meaningful improvements. I would like to share a few that I am proud of that have been implemented during my term so far:

·       In Domestic Violence cases the victim is required to be contacted for all Court appearances, and are consulted with any Disposition in the case.

·       Speeding violations that are less than 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit are reduced to minimize any points, avoid increased insurance rates, and a reduction in fines if warranted.

·       \Any speeding violation that is 30 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will require the defendant to complete 40 hours of community service, a Defensive Driving program, and a Traffic Violators Impact Program. Once these courses are completed unless there is a significant-traffic driving history, the speed will be reduced to avoid the defendant receiving points, and increased insurance rates, along with the elimination of the super speeder fine of $200. The normal fine of $1,398.00 is reduced to between $500 and $750 depending on traffic history.

·       Non-traffic violations are reduced to warnings as long as the reason for the violation has been corrected, and is warranted

·       A comprehensive review of a backlog of 682 Bench Warrants from 2002 through 2022 has been reviewed by the Court to determine if the cases are viable for prosecution.

·       All requests for modifications or dismissals of Driving Under the Influence charges, and criminal cases by the Solicitor General are now required to be documented and filed in the court record stating the reason why the charge cannot proceed to trial, ensuring transparency and accountability. The arresting officer is required to be notified and/or consulted as to the reduction or dismissal of the original charge.

·       All pending Civil cases were scheduled for status conferences to determine if Jury trials were necessary which has eliminated the backlog in Civil cases.        

Throughout my service, I've upheld the principles of dignity, respect, and impartiality, treating all individuals, whether represented by legal counsel or not, with fairness and equality.

As we approach the 2024 election, I humbly ask for your continued support and vote. If you're interested in further supporting my campaign through yard signs, donations, or contributions, please don't hesitate to reach out to Mickey Kicklighter, campaign chairman, at 412 N. Laurel St., Springfield, GA 31329, phone number 912-754-6003; or Denis Dozier, senior campaign treasurer at 430 Silverwood Center Dr., Rincon, GA 31326, phone number 912-826-5253.  

Please vote on June 18 in the runoff election.

Thank you once again for your trust and confidence in me.

[Editor’s note: Candidates for political offices in the June 18 runoff election are welcome to send an updated or their initial introductory article – up to 500 words – with a clear color photo (head shot preferred) to the Effingham Herald. Send article and photo to If you desire more coverage for your campaign, feel free to reach out to the Herald’s multimedia sales executives, Christy Sanders or Laurel Pate at 912-826-5012.]