Attorney Stephanie Woodard, who moved with her family to Hall County just four years ago, was sworn in Friday as the county’s solicitor general.
Woodard was appointed to serve as Hall County’s chief prosecutor of misdemeanors by Gov. Sonny Perdue in December. She succeeds Larry Baldwin, who was earlier appointed to Hall County’s state court bench.
Addressing a large gathering of attorneys, court officials, friends and family, Woodard acknowledged the welcome she received after she "fell in love" with Gainesville and decided to set up a private practice in town.
"I am humbled by the acceptance, encouragement and guidance of the folks who welcomed me into this legal community," Woodard said.
Woodard, an advocate for recovering addicts through her work as co-founder of local nonprofit group Friends of Recovery, also thanked her late father for his influence on her life.
"My father set a course for my life in that he was the first broken person that I ever learned to love and to accept," Woodard said.
Woodard said her father looked at others without regard to race, education or social status. "My father showed me how to love people who were in broken places," she said.
Before being administered the oath of office by Hall County Chief State Court Judge Charlie Wynne, Woodard was introduced by her law professor and mentor, Georgia State University School of Law Associate Dean Roy M. Sobelson.
"Stephanie, you are not only a good person for this job, I’d say you are the best person for this job," Sobelson said. "The people of Hall County have every reason to be proud of Gov. Perdue’s fine choice."
Woodard said she would do her best to uphold the standards of the office that Baldwin headed the past four years. She called Hall County "progressive" in its willingness to support treatment courts that lend a helping hand to criminal defendants struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.
"I am most honored to be part of Hall County and have the opportunity to serve a community that loves the least among us," she said.
Woodard, 42, takes over an office with 16 employees which in 2007 prosecuted more than 8,000 criminal violations and handled in excess of 17,000 traffic citations. The office generates county revenues in the millions through court fines.
Woodard, a Republican, will be up for re-election by Hall County voters in 2010.