by Mary Hopper
Mecklenburg County District Attorney Election To Be Decided May 8
Start Studying Up TODAY
While the outcome of seven races will, for all intents, be concluded on May 8, the election of Mecklenburg County District Attorney and Sheriff (separate article) merit your immediate attention. That is true because everyone, not just some in districts, vote on them, but also because the operations of these two agencies impact so many lives, especially women and children. Note as well that incumbent Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn-Gary had no opponent so is in effect re-elected.
Here is a brief overview on the DA’s race.
We are lucky to have two civic-minded young men running for an elective office that one Harvard advocate calls “the most powerful in Mecklenburg County”.
Toussaint Romain garnered national attention during the Keith Scott demonstrations. A former Republican, he has since re-registered as a Democrat. Romain has been a guest editorialist for the Charlotte Observer and was named a Charlottean of the Year in 2016 by Charlotte Magazine. This thoughtful interview offers an inside look at what guides him.
Many locals did not know Spencer Merriweather until his boss, Andrew Murray, crossed party lines to recommend him as his successor in the DA’s office. That made Merriweather the first African American to be top prosecutor in our state’s largest court system. His interview when becoming DA gives insight into his approach to the office. Here is link to his campaign website
If where they studied is important to you:
Merriweather’s undergraduate degree is from Princeton and his law degree, from Chapel Hill.
Romain’s undergraduate degree is from UNC Charlotte with a law degree from Regent Law School in Virginia.
If interesting facts intrigue you:
Merriweather was president of undergraduate student government at Princeton and, for 2 years, served as legislative associate for the District of Columbia’s US Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
Toussaint’s blood-spattered white shirt was on display in a major Levine Museum of New South exhibit; he studied International law at the University of Strasbourg.
If involvement in community is important:
Both have extensive lists of boards. Read their full Linked In profiles in the links below.
At a Dec. 13 news conference, domestic violence advocates called for the creation of a Family Justice Center in Mecklenburg County. A Dec. 14 Observer article explained its link to domestic violence:
According to police officials, last year, 27 percent of all homicides in Charlotte were related to domestic violence (DV), and the first four homicides this year were domestic violence incidents.
Voters would do well to consider a focus on DV issues in both the DA and Sheriff races as candidates articulate their platforms. While an issue like this can give an advantage to the current office holder, formation of the agency and securing its funding will take much effort, allowing both candidates time to demonstrate their commitment. It should be noted that one of the first changes Merriweather did was realign the DA’s violent crimes units to include a Special Victims Team to prosecute sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence cases. You should monitor how his new structure is working.
Additional information from both candidates will emerge in upcoming forums, interviews and surveys, giving you the chance to weigh which brings greater strengths to the office. Voters might want to target DV issues in both the DA and Sheriff races as candidates articulate their platforms.
Take time to check new information through periodic Google searches, attend any public forums with the pair and explore what you think needs to happen in this office as you prepare to vote May 8. As of this posting, neither appeared to have websites, but that could change.