Dorothea Bailey-Butts

Dorothea Bailey-Butts

COVINGTON — Embattled Newton County Coroner Dorothea Bailey-Butts has resigned her position, effective Friday, May 28.

Newton County issued a statement Wednesday saying that former coroner Tommy Davis had been appointed by Probate Court Judge Melanie Bell to serve as interim coroner until a special election can be held to fill Bailey-Butts' unexpired term. "His experience and familiarity with the position as the previous coroner allows for a seamless transition in this critical office," according to the county's statement.

A special election for the coroner will be scheduled within no less than 120 and no more than 365 days from May 28.

In a lengthy statement posted on Facebook Tuesday, Bailey-Butts claimed she was unable to fulfill the duties of her position due to a lack of support from those around her and people who were intent on sabotaging her.

Bailey-Butts went on to say that her work was criticized because she is Black and a woman.

“These people wouldn’t accept change for the better,” she wrote. “They got so used to the old system. They are intimidated by my capacity, knowledge and experience. This is a classic example of racism and discrimination.”

The county's statement contradicts Bailey-Butts' claims, stating, "The Newton County Board of Commissioners and members of staff worked with Bailey-Butts to ensure the needs of the residents of Newton County were met. A budget amendment of $50,000 was made to the coroner’s budget in January for operating supplies and any additional training that was needed. Bailey-Butts was also in the process of moving to a larger office to accommodate the needs she expressed to the Board of Commissioners and the county manager."

The county also firmly denied any claims of lack of support to the Coroner’s Office and any allegations of discrimination based on gender or race.

Bailey-Butts came under fire shortly after taking office Jan. 1, with allegations that she mishandled several cases, including an auto fatality, the death of a guest at the Hampton Inn in Covington, and the suicide of a 13-year-old boy. Kerr filed a petition to the Georgia Coroner’s Training Council seeking to have her removed from office, stating that she “has demonstrated that she is wholly unable to competently serve as the county’s coroner.”

The Coroner’s Training Council did not act on Kerr’s petition.

Subsequently, Bailey-Butts made a budget presentation to the Board of Commissioners in which she asked the county to increase her fiscal year 2022 budget by more than 100% in order to increase her salary, add manpower and expand training.

Bailey-Butts told commissioners in April that she wanted to increase her annual pay from $35,000 to $60,000, taking the position which has historically been part-time to full-time.

Overall, Bailey-Butts proposed increasing the coroner’s budget from $110,000 to $237,357.

Despite that budget presentation in April, Kerr said Tuesday that Bailey-Butts has never submitted a final budget request to the county’s Finance Department. The county budget is expected to be adopted June 15.

Bailey-Butts, a Democrat, defeated Republican Davis in the race for coroner in November. Prior to Bailey-Butts' election, Davis had been the only employee of the Coroner's Office for 12 years.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

(2) comments


This is what happens when people cast their votes based solely on party affiliation.



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