Mayor Kelly Girtz has named Macon-Bibb County Attorney Judd Drake the sole finalist to replace Bill Berryman, who is retiring, as Athens-Clarke County attorney.
Drake has served as the attorney for Macon-Bibb County since it unified in 2014. He also served as Macon's senior assistant city attorney and interim city attorney, and interim manager for Macon-Bibb.
Prior to moving to Macon in 2011, the Metter native had a practice in his hometown for 11 years, focusing on local government, education and real estate law. During that time, he also served as the attorney for Candler County and the Candler County Board of Education, and as chief magistrate judge and state court judge in Candler County.
Drake has a bachelor's degree in business from UGA and a law degree from Mercer University. He also pursued a divinity degree from Emory University while serving as pastor of a United Methodist church in Wilkinson County.
“It is evident from his long history of legal practice that Judd will provide excellent representation to Athens-Clarke County,” Girtz said in a news release. “Especially in his time at Macon-Bibb, he has demonstrated both the sound judgement and creativity to help us maintain our strengths while moving forward into significant new endeavors that will more fully support the people of this great community.”
The ACC Commission will vote on Drake's appointment June 19. If approved, he will serve a two-year term starting July 1.
Berryman, who has served as ACC's attorney since 2003, has been planning his retirement for several years. He will continue working on a contract basis to help with projects where he has institutional knowledge, such as Athens' network of bike and pedestrial trails, Girtz said.
"Bill has given so much to this community, and his work has left Athens a safer and a more vibrant place to live," Girtz said. "I understand his desire to live a less frenetic life than can be afforded by working in local government and appreciate his willingness to help us pursue our next steps with some of the significant projects with which he has been involved.”
The county attorney, along with a staff of five, drafts ordinances and contracts, defends ACC against lawsuits, prosecutes ordinance violations and provides legal advice on zoning, real estate and other matters.