ATLANTA – Rep. Alex Atwood gave up his post Thursday as chairman of the House Public Safety Appropriations Committee because he won’t be running for re-election.

The three-term Republican from St. Simons Island had already announced he’s running next year for Glynn County’s chief magistrate judge instead of the legislature. He’s a lawyer who served as an appointed magistrate before his election to the House of Representatives.

In a letter to his colleagues, he said he asked House Speaker David Ralston to make someone else chairman of the committee that sets the budget for the state’s law enforcement, penal and judicial agencies.

“It is my strongly held belief that this position needs long-term continuity to be successful, for it is important that whomever is selected for this position have the time and tenure to become knowledgeable regarding the myriad of agencies and expenditures overseen by the Appropriations Committee for Public Safety,” Atwood wrote. “Also, as this position oversees specific details of all aspects of judicial (funding), I feel it appropriate to avoid even the appearance of a potential conflict of interest as I seek to move into the judicial branch next year.”

Atwood only became chairman in January.

His is decision adds to the number of vacant committee chairs that Ralston and a committee on appointments will have to fill before the General Assembly returns.

Others resulted from resignations, such Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, who gave up Transportation to become Gov. Nathan Deal’s state transportation planner and Game, Fish and Parks which Rep. Jon Burns, R-Newington, abandoned when he was elected House majority leader after Deal made Rep. Larry O’Neal judge of the state tax court. Industry and Labor became vacant when Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, resigned to take a job in Tennessee. The Marta Oversight Committee opened up as Deal made Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, a judge.


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