Muscogee County District Attorney candidate Mark Jones was back on the campaign trail Friday, less than 24 hours after being released from jail.
A midday rally drew about 75 supporters in front of his downtown office, in the shadow of incumbent Julia Slater’s Government Center office.
Jones is fighting the incumbent District Attorney with a campaign that is aimed at those who don’t trust the system.
And to illustrate that he says the felony destruction of property charges that landed him in jail two weeks before the elections are baseless.
The crowd was cheering him and posing for photos with the 38-year-old candidate.
Crystal Chanel Jernigan says she has had her own issues with the law and she fully backs Jones — and says its time for a change.
“A lot of unjust incarcerations,” Jernigan said. “And this has become a serious problem and it’s gotten people tied into it. I have been tied into the system too. I know how this works. It is something that has got to be addressed.”
There is nothing conventional about this as the election nears.
The rally was different than most political rallies in that Jones offered campaign signs that opposed him. That was to offer those attending a choice.
Jones says that Slater is the problem.
“Stop trying to play political games and fight me fair in the ballot box,” Jones said. “If you think you are going to be a better candidate than me, get your vote out, We are getting ours out. And we are going to take your seat because we think you have done injustice to the community. I am sure you are great person. But we have had 12 long years and we still have the same problems.”
Those problems, according to Jones, are case backlogs that have kept defendants in the jail for more than two or three years without a trial.
News 3 talked to Slater Thursday and she said Jones is the one who has turned this campaign into a circus.
“I think that has happened because of the ridiculous, unlawful and reckless conduct of my opponent,” she said. “He has made several videos that either encouraged or depicted criminal activity. I think that’s what has turned this into a circus — a lack of respect for the law.”
Jones and two co-defendants were arrested on charges stemming from that campaign video shot on May 17 at the Columbus Civic Center. During that video, a car is seen cutting donuts in the parking lot. Police also say there is Civic Center security video that shows additional damage.
They three are charged with destruction of property and interference with government property.
Christopher Mandel Black, 23, and Erik Deangelo Whittington, 24, were released after posting $30,000 bonds each. The original bond for the two men was $300,000, which is the amount of property damage listed on the arrest warrants.