It has been a rough couple of months for elected officials in Columbia County.
Just last fall, Georgia Sen. Lee Anderson had to face the fact that his 32-year-old son, Ben Anderson, had been arrested for DUI in Columbia County.
At the time, Lee Anderson was still the Republican candidate for Georgia State Senate’s District 24 seat, and was facing Democratic opponent Brenda Jordan in the Nov. 8, 2016 election.
While everyone knew that Lee Anderson was still going to win his race, it was definitely an embarrassing arrest for the elected official.
The truth was that both Andersons were very lucky that the situation wasn’t much worse.
Ben Anderson could have easily killed someone while driving under the influence in Columbia County.
If that had happened, it wouldn’t have been just a political embarrassment for his father.
It would have been life changing for Ben Anderson, Lee Anderson and the innocent victim or victims that could have been struck and killed.
But Lee Anderson faced his son’s arrest head-on.
“There’s no excuse for my son’s dangerous and reckless behavior,” Lee Anderson told the local media last fall. “We raised Ben better than that. He deserves the harsh punishment coming his way.”
This week, another elected official in Columbia County faced devastating news about his son.
Columbia County Commissioner Doug Duncan’s son, Douglas Duncan III, was arrested and charged with criminal attempt to commit a felony relating to a robbery attempt at the Walgreen’s on Fury’s Ferry Road.
Douglas Duncan III, 25, is accused of being the driver of the getaway car, while his passenger and acquaintance, Nicholas Alan Robinson, 28, of Martinez is accused of pulling a knife on a cashier.
Douglas Duncan III
Robinson is the same man who allegedly pulled a knife on another employee and stole several hundred dollars from the convenience store in January.
Obviously, Douglas Duncan III is hanging out with some shady folks.
But that’s on Douglas Duncan III. He is a grown man and that is no reflection on his father.
Clearly, his family is devastated by the accusations against him.
“We love our children unconditionally,” Commissioner Doug Duncan told the local media this week. “We’re devastated by the charge. We pray that he’ll be exonerated, but if not he’s going to face the consequences of his actions.”
Ask anyone who knows Commissioner Doug Duncan and they will tell you, he is an honest, hard-working man who does everything he possibly can to improve his district.
While some people are saying that a commissioner who can’t control his own child shouldn’t be overseeing a district in Columbia County, that’s not really fair.
Douglas Duncan III is not a child. At 25 years old, you are officially an adult making your own decisions.
You might be your father’s son, but you are responsible for your own actions.
And while the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office announced this week that they believe that Douglas Duncan III was aware of Robinson’s intent to rob the Walgreen employee, that’s on Douglas Duncan III.
Commissioner Doug Duncan cannot possibly control his adult child every hour of the day.
Commissioner Doug Duncan
In fact, he’s not alone.
There are countless law enforcement officers, attorneys, judges and prominent businessmen who have received that terrible phone call that their children have just been arrested on a criminal charge and they are sitting in jail.
No one is immune.
Let’s face it, even Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle and his family have had to face some unfortunate arrests.
In 2013, two of Whittle’s own nephews were arrested after being caught driving a rental truck carrying 20 pounds of marijuana.
The two adult nephews — Kenneth Whittle and Walter Hensley — along with another man, admitted to driving to California and buying 20 pounds of marijuana and bringing it back to the Augusta area.
Not the kind of arrest you want for any member of your family if you are the sheriff of Columbia County.
But that’s not Sheriff Whittle’s fault.
Just like Ben Anderson’s actions aren’t Lee Anderson’s fault.
The same is true for Doug Duncan and his adult son’s actions.
The truth is, you can’t always control your family.
You can only hope and pray for the best.