Probate Court Judge Keith Wood swore in Garrison for his final four-year term Friday afternoon at the Cherokee County Justice Center in downtown Canton.
Garrison thanked several people in attendance, including the local police chiefs, and those who have supported him over the last 20 years of service — Commissioner Harry Johnston, State Court Judge Alan Jordan and his parents, Wesley and Nell Garrison.
The courtroom wasn’t quite as full as it was for the several swearings-in that took place last week, as Garrison said he rescheduled his swearing-in for a later date so his son, now 24, who works for a film production company in Savannah, could be present.
“Twenty years ago, we did this in (the late Superior Court) Judge Michael Roach’s courtroom across the street at the Jones Building,” Garrison said. “I just wanted to have all my family here.”
Garrison said he’s ready to take on the challenges ahead.
“It’s already our theme back in the office that it’s our last but it’s going to be our best that we’ve had yet,” Garrison said.
Afterward, Garrison shared photographs of his family at his very first swearing in. The photo shows him pictured holding his then-4-year-old son.
Garrison said his final swearing in was bittersweet, as he’s electing not to pursue the office in 2016.
“We’re excited about moving forward, even though it will be the last, we want it to be our best and try to accomplish a lot,” Garrison said. “We’ve got a very aggressive set of goals for the next four years.”
Garrison said the decision to not seek re-election has been a long-standing one, as he will be 55 years old in his last year of service and will have served in his role for 24 years.
“That’s just a target I’ve basically had all my life,” Garrison said. “We had a very successful, hard-fought campaign. … I probably have one more left in me, but I decided to stick with my original goal.”
Garrison beat challenger David Waters, a commander with the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, in the July Republican primary with 68.6 percent, or 26,511 votes. Waters garnered 31.36 percent, or 12,113 votes.
In the years ahead, Garrison said his office will be working on training and partnering with the state for future training initiatives.
He’s also already making preparations to develop leaders for the years after he’s left office.
“We’re making sure the agency is in top shape to be transferred over four years from now,” Garrison said.