Ringgold attorney McCracken “Ken” Poston Jr. was born Oct. 24, 1959, in Fort Oglethorpe. He grew up in the Graysville community of Catoosa County.
Poston graduated from Ringgold High School, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and The University of Georgia law school where he was president of his graduating law class.
Poston eventually entered politics as a state legislator.
But before that, he was a municipal court judge and assistant district attorney for Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, which serves Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties.
Poston is a past president of Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce. He is also a former adjunct professor of American government at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Served as legislator in state House
Poston spent many hours while growing up in Graysville at the local mercantile, Pete and Bud’s, discussing politics with the old-timers.
He announced his candidacy for the Georgia House of Representatives in 1988 from the steps of the mercantile and held many roundtable political discussions there with the general public.
Poston ran as a Democrat for the District 2 seat in the state House and won the Democratic nomination in the 1988 August primaries against fellow Democrat Robert G. Peters with almost 70 percent of the votes.
Poston was slated to run against Republican Robert Cagle in the Nov. 8 election, but Cagle was disqualified after Poston notified the Secretary of State’s office that Cagle had pleaded guilty to “intent to commit murder” after getting into a brawl more than 25 years earlier. No other candidate took Cagle’s place, but Cagle still received 1,515 votes. Poston received 7,388.
In 1994, Poston defeated Charles Proctor Sr., who ran as an independent after being disqualified to run as a Democrat.
During his eight-year tenure in Atlanta, Poston took on his party’s leadership and lobbyists in Georgia in battles over ethics legislation.
In 1996, Poston challenged U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, a Democrat at the time, for the 9th Congressional District seat.
During his campaign, Poston listed ethics and campaign finance as two of his main concerns in Washington.
He said that although he would not repeal the assault weapons ban, he wanted to ensure gun rights for his independent mountain constituents. He said he would like to replace the Brady Act with an instant background check before a gun could be purchased.
Poston said his diabetes, diagnosed in the early 1990s, had given him new perspective on health care. To save money in the long term, he said he would like to see more money spent on preventive care.
During his campaign, Poston said he hoped for a slot on the Resources Committee so he could work to protect Chattahoochee National Forest. He said irresponsible clear-cutting had caused erosion problems, jeopardizing the area’s tourism industry.
Poston lost his race against Deal, who claimed about 65 percent of the vote.
Remained in the spotlight
Since leaving politics, Poston has remained in the public spotlight as an attorney on two high-profile cases.
In 1999, Poston represented Ringgold resident Alvin Ridley, who was charged with the October 1997 strangulation of his wife, Virginia.
Police said Ridley, 56-years-old at the time, had held his wife captive for three decades and then finally suffocated her.
Before the trial, many details of the case were silenced because of a gag order. Herbert “Buzz” Franklin, district attorney for Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, was the prosecutor in the case.
Poston, during the one-week trial in 1999, successfully argued that Ridley’s wife died, not from strangulation, but after suffering an epileptic seizure. Ridley was acquitted.
The story aired months later on Arts and Entertainment’s American Justice series. It was titled “Death in a Small Town.”
In an unrelated case, Poston was one of the defense attorneys in the Byron Looper murder case. Looper, a former Putnam County, Tenn., property assessor, was accused in the October 1998 slaying of state Sen. Tommy Burks of Monterey