Despite campaign announcements and billboards, Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich announced Tuesday morning she will be retiring from the office at the conclusion of her current term, which concludes at the end of the year.
Holding back tears, Rich shared the development during a press conference on the 7th floor of the Mobile County Courthouse with her husband, Ritch Hurt, standing in support beside her.
“I’ve given my all,” Rich said. “Today, with a smile, I’m announcing my retirement as district attorney for Mobile County.”
Though Rich, 53, announced her candidacy for election last July, she said a new law took effect in October 2020, which enabled her to combine her 15 years of service in the Mobile DA’s office with her 12 years of service as the elected DA and reach eligibility for full retirement benefits.
She will serve the remainder of this year, and her last day in office will be in early January 2023, when a newly elected DA will be sworn in.
Chief Assistant DA Keith Blackwood will be seeking election, according to Rich, who said Blackwood will have her endorsement. Mobile County elections will take place in November.
“I’m running for District Attorney of Mobile County,” Blackwood told Lagniappe. “Ashley has been a tremendous leader as DA, and I look forward to asking the citizens of Mobile County to allow me to fill her shoes.”
Rich said she currently has no plans to seek election to another public office.
As her proudest accomplishments, Rich said she fought for justice and hope for victims of crime, specifically in the 2015 trial of John DeBlase for the 2010 torture and killing of his children, Natalie DeBlase, 4, and her brother, Chase DeBlase, 3.
She said she also fought for hirer wages for her office’s employees, noting a lawyer in a DA office now makes an average starting salary of $55,000 — $10,000 more than when she began, and closer to what a lawyer could expect to make in the private sector. Her office employs 79 people and has a $7 million budget.
“During the last 26 years, I’ve constantly reminded myself of the saying, ‘You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with,” Rich said. “I am who I am because of the people I’ve worked with.”
Rich said plans to spend her retirement focusing on her family. She specifically noted her parents are 86 years old, and her daughter will be attending Auburn University in the fall 2022 semester.
“I want to be the best Auburn mom ever,” Rich said.
She went on to note her son is serving overseas in the U.S. Air Force and she hopes to travel to see him more often.
She said, more importantly, her husband will be able to have a wife who is not carrying home with her the weight of responsibility as the top prosecutor in Mobile.
“I’ve formed relationships with [victims] and their families that cannot be undone. The relationships we have made have made me a better person, and I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to help them,” Rich said.
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