Thursday, May 1, 2014

WataugaConservative Looks at the Primaries....The DISTRICT ATTORNEY RACE 24TH Prosecutorial District

In probably the most hard fought and controversial of the local Primary races is the Race for District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District which includes Watauga, Avery, Mitchel, Yancey and Madison Counties. Their is no current incumbent - Republican Jerry Wilson retired suddenly in April leaving the office vacant.

If you are serious about making an informed  choice for this position, I strongly encourage you to do a little homework. One of the best sources of information for your research is probably the District Attorney Forum which was held in Spruce Pine April 24th. WatCon has a previous post on this topic here. You can quickly link to the audio of this forum HERE  On the right side of the linked page, below the yellow line, is a four part audio series. You can skip the "introductions" and get right into the "meat" by beginning at the 11 minute point of audio 1.

This is not a "gotcha" forum.....each of the candidates was, in my opinion, given fair opportunity to present their views and you will hear directly from the candidates rather than from someone else's reporting of the event.

Additionally, candidate pages can be found as follows.


BRITT SPRINGER FOR DA CAMPAIGN PAGE
BRITT SPRINGER FOR DA FACEBOOK PAGE


NATHAN MILLER FOR DA CAMPAIGN PAGE
NATHAN MILLER FOR DA FACEBOOK PAGE                                 
                                                            
SETH BANKS FOR DA CAMPAIGN PAGE
SETH BANKS FOR DA FACEBOOK PAGES









ANALYSIS of the race

A contentious race from the beginning, it looks like things will finish as they began. Springer, who is often accused of being a "Stealth Democrat" because her registration as a Republican was so recent, is not being helped by the very obvious support being given her by the local liberal left. The U.G.W. (Usual Gang of Wackos) who permeate the comments sections in the local media blogs, have done everything but fund raise in their efforts to influence the Republican primary by encouraging left - leaning  Unaflliated voters to take up Republican Ballots in support of Springer. Personally, I think it would have been easier for the Dems to actually field a candidate of their own. It looks like one or two individuals are posting redundant endorsements under a variety of screen names.......(sort of like they do here sometimes).

Springer, for her part has said that she was raised with Republican values....that when she left home at age 18 to come to ASU she "unfortunately thought (she) knew everything" and registered Democrat. (We certainly have seen that happen before!)  Springer went on to say that when former DA Jerry Wilson told her to examine her values, she did just that and determined that she "couldn't stand behind the Democrats any longer". She stated that she "switched (to Repub) that day" and "came back to my core values".

Her opponentSeth Banks remarked that it was "interesting" that Springer converted at the same time she had decided to run for District Attorney.

For my part, I am willing to take her at her word. It is possible that her party switch was for convenience/political  purposes but, with no way of knowing for sure, I am certainly willing to take her at her word that her current registration reflects her true core values. We look forward to and welcome her participation in future party activities. If  her party change was sincere, then she is as good a Republican as any of the rest of us. If not, time will certainly tell. In the meantime I would ask everyone to judge based on merit, not on longevity in the party!

The Candidates  
. Springer is running almost as a "Surrogate Incumbent" Some of this is brought on by Springer herself who seems to want to highlight her experience in that office without regard to how others might assign her some responsibilities for the problems of that office.

 The DA's office , which she has been chief prosecutor of for the past 2 years, seems to be catching a lot of heat for the inefficiencies, failures to proceed with trials, plea agreements in lieu of trials, etc. Apparently it is rare in Watauga county for trial courts to work past Tuesday or Wednesday on the weeks when they are scheduled to work.. Both Banks and Miller have pledged to speed up the court process and to introduce new efficiencies into the system. Banks, in the audio referenced in our opening paragraph, shared several statistics as to the number of felony cases filed in a couple of our 24th District counties comparing that number to the one or two cases that have actually gone to trial.

Springer, for the most part has also expressed her plans for streamlining the current process; expediting trials increasing efficiency, reducing backlogs, etc.

EXPERIENCE  Springer points out that she has been in the prosecutors office for 11 years - 2 of them as Chief Prosecutor; Banks argues that he is the only one of the candidates that is actually a "state certified specialist in criminal law". Miller seems to focus more on his management experience and leadership skills in differentiating himself:  all three naturally think that the qualifications they possess are the ones most important for a District Attorney.

Conclusion  Not an easy call - but - I would go with Nathan Miller. I have long been impressed with Miller's handling of difficult issues and the leadership skills he has exhibited in handling frequently controversial issues  as Chair of the Board of County Commissioners.

He also manages the Miller Law firm in Boone and, as he has pointed out, he is the "only one (of the three) to have hired or fired anyone". Miller, in opposing some long standing liberal town policies, has drawn the ire of local Democrats who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time whining about his every move. The fact that they concentrate so much of their venom toward him must mean that he is doing something right! (and also serves to give the Board Of Elections folks a short break)

To be honest, I have never seen any of the three candidates in court and I  would not be qualified to offer any more than a layman's opinion even if I had made courtroom observations. All 3 seem to be competent attorneys - if the job were Chief Prosecutor, I may have gone with a different choice....Maybe stick with  Miller who has a variety of experiences in differend aspects of the law? Or .Springer, with 11 years experience (or one year of experience repeated 11 times?) or Banks with his State Bar certification as a criminal specialist If you want an evaluation of their legal abilities, I am afraid you will have to look elsewhere. As a voter, I believe that the most important aspect of this particular job is to manage a complex organization and fairly large staff of professionals spread out over 5 counties.

I would hire a manager and a leader - yes, someone who HAS hired and fired.



Miller best serves that need.




4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed. Why did you make such a huge deal about Springer's party change and yet blow off Hodges party change? Personally I like Seth Banks.

Anonymous said...

So a manager is more qualified than one who has actual prosecutorial experience? Or could it be that he is a "local?"

guy faulkes said...

One is indeed foolish if he has seen the work of candidates and does not take that into consideration. I have been impressed with Mr. Miller's conduct in the courtroom. I have not been impressed with Ms. Springer's. Unfortunately, I know little about Mr.Banks, but would certainly rather have him than Ms. Srpinger.

If you take into consideration the issue of only supporting a local candidate because he is local, then it would seem Mr. Banks has the advantage due to a locally split vote.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Seth Banks. He's the only candidate that isn't entangled in a bunch of Watauga County lunacy.