Wake DA race offers strong candidates

July 16, 2014 

Wake County residents and voters had three qualified candidates for district attorney prior to Tuesday’s Republican runoff. Now there are two.

Jeff Cruden, a veteran assistant DA, and attorney John Bryant met to settle which would be the Republican candidate in November against Wake Clerk of Court Lorrin Freeman, a Democrat. Bryant won convincingly.

But it should be said that Cruden, low-key and businesslike, was a perfectly well-qualified candidate.

This race could be interesting. Freeman has been clerk of court since 2006, and she has managed the office well and been open about its operation. She has some prosecutorial experience, having been an assistant DA, and she’s certainly savvy about politics. She’s also well-connected among Democrats. Her father, Franklin Freeman, is a former judge and was chief of staff to former Gov. Mike Easley.

Whereas Freeman is soft-spoken, Bryant can be bombastic. He’s outgoing, popular among his fellow lawyers and knows the land – and the land mines – around the DA’s office.

Both candidates are intelligent and have the necessary professional and life experience to run the office following the long tenure of Colon Willoughby.

But in the coming months, Freeman and Bryant need to specifically articulate their philosophies of running the DA’s office: Would they prosecute cases themselves? Would they maintain openness? How would they create efficiencies in the system?

The office is a cornerstone of the justice system’s fairness. These candidates must show their vision of how to, first and foremost, ensure that such fairness is never compromised.

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