Compiled by Jesse Wood
April 11, 2014. Among the most talked about primary races in Watauga County so far is the GOP contest between Assistant District Attorney Britt Springer, Nathan Miller and Seth Banks for the position of District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District.
Because no Democrat filed to run for DA, the May primary will effectively call the race in November. Also, the race features two candidates that reside in Watauga County and one Yancey County native. As the online political blog, A Watauga Conservative noted last December: “It will be interesting to see if Watauga County Republicans split their vote in the primary between the two local candidates and, if so, how this will benefit Banks.”
Compiled below are biographical information, endorsements, previous candidacy statements, important issues and priorities and links to social media and campaign websites. High Country Press will soon ask a few questions for each candidate to answer.
Also, here is audio from a prior candidate forum in Spruce Pine held in March.
Also, catch the candidates live in upcoming CANDIDATE FORUMS:
SETH BANKS of YANCEY COUNTY
Brief Bio of Banks
Seth Banks is a native of Yancey County. He earned his undergrad degree at N.C. State University and a law degree from Wake Forest University of Law School in 2007. Following law school, he worked as an assistant district attorney in the Triad area for nearly six years. Currently, Banks is a partner with the firm Bailey and Banks, PLLC, in Burnsville, where he resides with his wife Gretchen and their young son David. See Banks’ bio on his campaign website here.
- Campaign Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/banksforda
- Campaign website: http://www.banksforda.com/
- LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/r-seth-banks/75/14/834
- Former Congressman Charles H. Taylor
- Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr
- Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks
Banks on the “Issues”
The following is from his candidate website:
- Efficient and Professional Administration: Seth will establish an administration that is dedicated to serving the people of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties. He will work with law enforcement to minimize their time in court so that they can maximize their time spent keeping our communities safe. Seth will also make sure there is open communication between his staff, law enforcement, and members of the community.
- Dedication to Reducing Drug Crimes: Illegal drugs are prevalent and threaten the safety and success of our communities and our children. Seth is committed to reducing the incidence and impact of illegal narcotics in the counties of the 24th Judicial District. He will prosecute those who deal drugs and work to take them out of our communities. Seth will work with community leaders to find innovative solutions to address addiction and decrease substance abuse.
- Commitment to Deal with Crimes Swiftly: Too often justice delayed is justice denied. Seth will continually strive to move cases as efficiently as possible in the Superior and District Court Divisions in order to bring closure to victims, law enforcement, and witnesses.
- A Focus on Violent and Habitual Felons: Communities are often terrorized by career criminals. Seth will utilize laws that allow prosecutors to increase the prison sentences of the worst of the worst. He will work hard to see that these career criminals are put and kept behind bars.
- Hands-On Leadership: Seth will be a hands-on leader actively working with assistants in each of the five counties that comprise the 24th Judicial District. Seth is committed to being a constant presence in each and every courthouse in the district.
- A Conservative Voice: As District Attorney Seth will be a conservative voice in the courtroom. He has a record as a tough prosecutor. He is committed to working hard to hold criminals accountable while protecting the Constitutional Rights of the people of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties.
Banks’ Statement Announcing Candidacy
Today, Seth Banks officially announced his candidacy to become the District Attorney for the 24th Judicial District. Banks will run to succeed outgoing District Attorney Jerry Wilson.
“My wife Gretchen and I are excited to officially announce my candidacy for District Attorney. Over the last several months I have traveled throughout the 24th Judicial District and talked with many hard-working folks about the qualities they expect from their next District Attorney. The people of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey counties want their District Attorney to share the same values that sustained our ancestors when they first settled these mountains. The values of honesty, hard work, and integrity characterized them and are the same values I will bring to this office,” said Banks.
Banks is a Yancey county native who grew up in the Prices Creek community. He graduated from Mountain Heritage High School and attended college at N.C. State University, ultimately earning his law degree from Wake Forest University.
After completing law school, Seth became an assistant district attorney, handling large caseloads with cases ranging from first degree murder, to crimes against children, to felony assaults. He has successfully tried numerous trials to verdict before North Carolina juries. Currently, Banks is a partner with the firm Bailey and Banks, PLLC, located in Burnsville.
Banks’ candidacy for District Attorney has been endorsed by former Congressman Charles H. Taylor, former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, and Yancey County Sheriff Gary Banks.
“In the coming months I look forward to talking with many people throughout the district about my candidacy. My extensive experience prosecuting cases at the highest levels, and my desire to be a conservative voice in the courtroom, make me uniquely qualified to serve as the next District Attorney.”
For more information about Seth’s campaign visit www.BanksforDA.com.
NATHAN MILLER OF WATAUGA COUNTY
Brief Bio of Miller
Nathan Miller is a native of Watauga County. He earned an undergrad degree at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a law degree at St. Mary’s University of Law School in San Antonio, Texas in 2006. Currently, Miller focuses on criminal defense and civil litigation at Miller and Johnson, PLLC, located in downtown Boone. In 2010, Miller was elected to a four-year term on the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, where is currently chair of the board. Miller lives in Watauga County and is married to his wife Crystal, the two of which have a young daughter named Lillian Sue. See Miller’s bio on his campaign website here.
- Campaign Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/millerforda
- Campaign website: http://millerforda.com/
- LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/nathan-miller/a/768/46
- Former District Attorney Tom Rusher
- Former Watauga County Sheriff Red Lyons
Miller on the “Issues”
The following is from his candidate website:
- I pledge to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system, to ensure that the extensive backlog of criminal cases from years past is eliminated. The current backlog only ensures that justice is delayed and victims suffer longer as they wait for a final conclusion.
- I pledge to ensure that the District Attorney’s offices in the five counties remain open to the public, not as some political stunt as recently happened in Watauga County, but for the remainder of my tenure. This office performs the people’s business, and therefore must continue to be open and responsive to the people.
- I pledge to take a stand during every sentencing hearing. After a criminal is convicted or pleads guilty the judge first asks the District Attorney what they believe the appropriate sentence is. Currently the District Attorney declines to take a position and thus declines to fight for justice for the victims. The defense attorney is the only person the Judge hears from as to sentencing, which all but ensures that the criminal gets what the defense attorney seeks. As District Attorney I would ensure that the people are represented from the start of the criminal procedure to the end in each case.
- I pledge to ensure that violent criminals are punished. That unlike now, people who perpetrate armed robbery won’t get a dismissal after performing some community service. Criminals who do serious crimes will get hard time.
Miller’s Statement Announcing Candidacy
Dear Citizens of the 24th Prosecutorial District:
It is with great excitement that I hereby announce my candidacy for the position of District Attorney for the 24th Prosecutorial District. I have lived in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina all my life. I live with my wonderful wife, Crystal, and 14-month-old daughter, Lillian Sue, just east of Boone in Watauga County. Since graduating from law school I have practiced law in Watauga and surrounding counties. It has always been my focus, and will continue to be, that my clients receive the best representation possible. Now I am asking that you, the people of the 24th Prosecutorial District, to hire me as your prosecutor. Through my extensive law practice I have become keenly aware of the problems facing the judicial system for the five mountain counties of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties. I pledge to improve the efficiency of our District Attorney’s Office and ensure that the people are expertly and enthusiastically represented at all levels the criminal justice process including the sentencing phase. Unfortunately the current policy of the District Attorney’s office is to remain quiet during sentencing of convicted criminals! There is no input on behalf of the people in the sentencing of those convicted!
Candidates for office repeatedly make pledges when campaigning for office but seldom follow through. How do the voters know they can trust the candidate? The voters must look at the candidate’s record. My record is clear: I mean what I say and I say what I will do. The voters need only to look at my tenure for the last four years as the youngest Chairman in the history of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners. As Chairman, I have fought for and achieved the goals I outlined as a candidate. Under my conservative leadership our current county commission has reduced the substantial debt that burdened the county and saved the county millions of dollars. Many of my decisions were controversial but I have acted in the best long range interests of the county. My Conservative Republican values have guided and served me well as Chairman and I am proud of our accomplishments these past 3 plus years.
I am deeply honored and humbled to have the endorsement of 5 time elected District Attorney Tom Rusher. Mr. Rusher has more experience as a prosecutor than anyone in the District, and I appreciate his affirmation that I am the most qualified candidate for the job. Mr. Rusher served with distinction for 20 years as our elected District Attorney and I look forward to carrying on his proud tradition. I have garnered his endorsement because he knows my hardworking and hard charging nature.
I look forward to meeting the voters of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties in the upcoming months before the May 2014 primary and the November 2014 election and earning their vote. I welcome all voters to email me at [email protected] and visit my website at www.millerforda.com to ask questions or learn more about my candidacy.
Very Truly Yours,
Nathan A. Miller
BRITT SPRINGER OF WATAUGA COUNTY
Brief Bio of Springer
Britt Springer went to college at Appalachian State University and earned an law degree from the University of Oregon in 2003. She has worked as an assistant district attorney for the past 10 years, serving under former DA Jerry Wilson, who recently retired early because of health issues. Springer is married to her husband John, a supervisor at the Boone Post Office. They have two children – Lilly and Reed. See Springer’s bio on his campaign website here.
- Campaign Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Britt-Springer-For-DA/380053855451437
- Campaign website: http://www.brittspringerforda.com/
- LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/britt-springer/10/502/19b
Springer on the “Priorities”
The following is from her campaign website:
While the main objective of the District Attorney’s office is to see that justice is done in all criminal cases, I am particularly adamant about prosecuting cases of child molestation and sexual abuse of minors. I have always considered these crimes to be among the most heinous and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Crimes of sex abuse and molestation effect more than the immediate victims and their families, it can ruin communities, destroy friendships and sow distrust among neighbors. The long term effects of sexual abuse can last for generations and effect the children and even the grandchildren of the original victim.
It is our duty to try and stop that cycle, to protect the victims, punish the offenders and see that they are never given a chance to destroy another child, another family, or another community.
Statement Announcing Springer’s Candidacy
After serving the people of North Carolina as an Assistant District Attorney for the last 10 years, I am now formally announcing that I will be seeking the elected position of District Attorney for the 24th Judicial District.
As the Chief Prosecutor for Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, and Madison counties I have prosecuted cases at all levels including prosecuting homicide cases in all five counties. Another field that I have made a priority and taken a hard line stance on is child sex abuse cases. We simply cannot allow these perpetrators the opportunity to reoffend. The stakes are too high when dealing with our community’s children.
With the endorsement of both the current District Attorney, Jerry Wilson, and Chief District Court Judge Alexander Lyerly, I am confident in my abilities to step into the position of elected District Attorney. I am a proven prosecutor that can get the job done and continue to serve the people of the 24th Judicial District in the best way I know how. Experience, integrity, and fairness is what we need in a District Attorney and I am just the person to sustain those qualities in our District Attorney’s Office.