Jennifer Cox, a third-grade teacher at Richmond Hill Elementary School, think her experience in politics and through her family’s funeral home make her ideally suited to be Bryan County’s next probate judge.
“A lot of my experience carries over to the duties of probate judge,” she said. “Both through the funeral home and from my time as a hospice administrator, I’m used to dealing with families that are in grief. It takes a lot of knowledge of the situation and compassion.”
Cox faces Richmond Hill Police Chief Billy Reynolds in the May 24 primary. No Democrats filed to run, so the primary will effectively name the winner.
Probate judges in Georgia are the custodian of vital records in each county, including birth, death and marriage licenses. They also issue weapons permits and administer wills and estates.
Cox is married to Bill Cox, whose family owns Richmond Hill Funeral Home and is running unopposed for re-election as county coroner.
“I’m very familiar with the system used to file death certificates,” she said. “And as a teacher I’m no stranger to paperwork in general.”
Cox said one of the toughest parts of being a probate judge is dealing with incapacitated adults or the involuntary hospitalization of others.
“It’s a very delicate situation when you appoint a guardian for someone or take their rights away,” she said. “Once those rights are gone it’s difficult to get them back.”
Cox said one of her main goals if elected is to educate the public on what probate judges do.
“The biggest question I get when I tell people I’m running is what is it,” she said. “I’d like to have some ‘coffee and conversation’ meetings with various groups to educate the public. A probate judge can’t give advice, but they can point people in the right direction so they are prepared.”
Cox said although this is her first run for public office, she is no stranger to politics. She was the executive assistant to the general counsel of the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in the 1990s and her husband’s cousin, Cathy Cox, is a former Georgia state representative, secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate.
“All of that background certainly made the process less intimidating,” she said. “It helped make my decision easier.”