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New district attorney swears in

It was a moment several years in the making Sunday afternoon when Jeffrey Wade Barksdale, Franklin County’s assistant district attorney since 2014, stood in the large upstairs courtroom of the Franklin County Courthouse, raised his right hand and placed his left on a copy of the Bible, held by his wife, Mandy Barksdale. Chase Dowdy, pastor of Russellville First Baptist Church, gave a prayer, and Franklin County District Judge Paula McDowell administered the oath of office.

With his swearing in, Barksdale officially takes over as district attorney for Franklin County.

Barksdale replaces Joey Rushing, who officially retired the same day, Jan. 16.

Barksdale, a Republican, ran unopposed for district attorney of the 34th Judicial Circuit in the Nov. 8, 2022, general election. He secured 6,662 votes to 26 write-in votes, earning 99.61 percent of the vote.

In taking his oath of office, Barksdale solemnly swore to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, as long as he remains a citizen thereof, as well as to “faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the district attorney of the 34th judicial court” to the best of his ability.

A retirement reception for Rushing was held in the same place just two days before. Rushing was on hand to greet the crowd, sharing his thoughts about Barksdale stepping into the role.

“He’s always handled himself so professionally, both inside and outside the courtroom,” explained Rushing. “The past nine years working with Jeff, it’s been a great experience.

“He is one of the hardest workers you’ve ever seen,” added Rushing. “He works harder than just about anybody, which has helped me tremendously as I’ve moved toward retirement. He does a great job in every aspect.”

Barksdale expressed his enthusiasm for the new position.

“As I look out over this crowd today, my overwhelming reaction, the overwhelming emotion that I feel, is that of gratitude,” Barksdale said, “gratitude and thankfulness to God for today, for what it represents, and for the many, many blessings I’ve received across my almost 43 years on this earth.”

Barksdale thanked his wife Mandy and his parents, Wade Barksdale and Carolyn Barksdale, for their support. He also noted his appreciation for the other employees in the DA’s office, as well as a host of other relatives, friends and community members.

“Our district attorney’s office is a small one, with only three full-time employees other than myself: two full-time support staff, Courtney Wallace and Mandy Cummings, and our new full-time assistant district attorney, Fallyn Pharr,” explained Barksdale.

He described Pharr as being “off to a great start” and “an enthusiastic, hard worker,” who he said will be “a great asset to our county moving forward.”

Rushing echoed his sentiments. “She’s an excellent young attorney with a wonderful work ethic, and she’s very good at her job.”

Pharr, from the Vina area, has served in the role on a part-time basis for several months.

“I’m very thankful that I’ve gotten to spend as much time with Joey and Jeff both in the office as I have,” she explained. “I’ve learned a lot in these past few months, and I look forward to taking on my new role.”

Barksdale also expressed his gratitude for the office’s part-time employees. “I deeply appreciate the willingness of Anne Woodruff, Terry Zills and Mike Prince to continue working after having retired from their full-time positions.”

He also shared his appreciation for Rushing. “I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my predecessor, our outgoing district attorney, Joey Rushing,” he said. “Joey has been a wonderful boss, a mentor and a friend.

“I’ll be forever grateful,” he added. “I would further like to thank Joey for his over 25 years of full-time dedicated public service to Franklin County. I hope he enjoys his retirement, and I’m glad that he’ll be able to lend his expertise to our office in a part-time capacity later this year.”

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