Griggers holds off Lankster to win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 2, 2004

DEMOPOLIS – The scene at Greg Grigger’s law office shifted between a work session and a party as vote totals came in throughout the night.

Griggers, appointed district attorney in January 2003 after former DA Nathan Watkins retired, outdistanced former DA Barrown Lankster nearly 1,000 votes in Greene, Sumter and Marengo counties to win his first election to the 17th Judicial Circuit’s district attorney’s office.

“Did we win, Daddy,” asked 3 year-old Sydney Griggers, tugging at her father’s pants.

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Kneeling to look her in the face, came a strong “I think we did, baby. I think we did.”

With only the provisional box out in Marengo County, it appeared Griggers was leading Lankster 7,064 votes to 6,142 when the camp declared victory.

“It’s over,” Watkins said. “I think he’s done it and they’re aren’t enough votes left outstanding to make a difference.”

Watkins was just one of the Griggers supporters keeping tabs on the numbers as they came in from field reports.

“It feels good,” Griggers said. “It sounds like a pretty strong mandate from the voters of the 17th Circuit that they want officials who are accountable to the voters.”

“I think that mandate was sent by voters who said job performance and record do matter. It was a mandate of the voters in that they care more about that than they do anything else,” he said.

In the end, it was Marengo County voters who put Griggers over the top, giving him a nearly 2,100-vote cushion. He lost in Sumter County by 383 votes and in Greene County by 788 votes.

In Sumter County, Griggers received 1,680 votes to Lankster’s 2,063; in Greene County, Griggers earned 949 votes to Lankster’s 1,737, and in Marengo County, Griggers chalked up 4,435 votes to Lankster’s 2,342 votes.

“It feels good to win,” he told supporters gathered in the law office. “But it’s not been anything I’ve done on my own – y’all have done it. It’s most humbling … I’ll do my best not to let anybody down.”

Since his appointment by then-Gov. Don Siegleman, he has established a 93 percent conviction rate, and reduced a 1,200-case backlog by 40 percent.

Lankster could not be reached for a comment for this story.