Occupation: District attorney, 28th Prosecutorial District
Party affiliation, if any: Democrat
Political experience: Elected district attorney five times
Endorsements: Asheville Citizen-Times
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign?
Approximately $40,000 from over 150 donors.
Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Tom Keith - $1,000
Tom & Kaye Davis - $1,000
Dallas Riddle - $1,000
2) What most distinguishes you from your opponent?
I’ve handled literally thousands of serious felony cases and personally tried numerous murder cases ... including ... death-penalty cases. I have ... tried to reach out to young persons about the consequences of bad choices. I have spent time in the Legislature to help get funding for the court system.
3) What are the top three law-enforcement priorities in Buncombe County?
• Drugs (especially methamphetamine).
• Gangs: We must continue to work with our law-enforcement partners to stay ahead of the curve.
• Computer-related crime, especially involving sexual exploitation of children as well as financial fraud.
4) What areas need improvement in the district attorney's office?
The district attorney's office continues to need adequate funding by the state. Due to the budget woes, we have lost a legal assistant position in each of the past two years. ... We have our full complement of assistant DAs for the first time in over a year-and-a-half.
5) What are the best ways to deal with drug enforcement?
First, stop drugs from crossing the border; second, educate the young as we did in this country on the dangers of smoking; and third, continue to vigorously prosecute drug traffickers.
6) What do you think about the office's handling of plea bargains?
We handle over 3,200 cases a year in Superior Court, plus over 1,000 probation-violation cases. We tried 50 cases to a jury last year with the 47 weeks of court we were allocated by the state, which mirrors the state average. We need more court time to try more cases.
7) What steps would you take to improve prosecution of rape and domestic violence?
We have prosecutors dedicated to these cases who will continue to work closely with the detectives who investigate them. We have a full-time legal assistant who contacts each domestic-violence victim. Hopefully there will continue to be advances in DNA and other scientific evidence to help us prosecute these cases.
8) What’s the best way to deal with habitual offenders, such as some of the homeless, who have long records of misdemeanor crimes?
We prosecuted 63 habitual felons last year, third in the state. We led the state in habitual DWI prosecutions the last three years. Qualifying assaultive misdemeanants are prosecuted as habitual misdemeanants. Nonassaultive misdemeanants may qualify for Nuisance Court: 74 successful completions, 1,500 hours of community service [so far this year].
9) How would you deal with gang activity?
Vigorous and focused prosecution, as in the recent federal case of Ken Foster and 25 others, which started from a case in our office. New focused deterrence initiative known as the “High Point Model” that will kick off in the next month or so to try and deter unacceptable behavior.
10) What steps, if any, should be taken to improve conviction rates and get longer sentences for violent criminals?
Adequately fund the court system. Give us more court time. Last year, sentences under the structured-sentencing system were cut by the Legislature. We need to build an adequate number of prison beds and make sentences for violent crime longer. We are going the wrong way.