Gov. Pat McCrory wants Durham District Attorney-elect Roger Echols to start early.
The governor announced Friday that he has appointed Echols as district attorney effective at the beginning of next month, four months before the unopposed Democrat would take office Jan. 1.
He will replace Leon Stanback, 72, who has served as interim district attorney for three years.
Echols, the current chief assistant district attorney, defeated two challengers in the May Democratic primary.
“I would like to thank Leon Stanback for his service to Durham County and North Carolina,” McCrory said in a release. “He has exhibited great leadership, and the state has benefited from his time spent with the District Attorney’s Office.”
The governor called Echols the perfect choice because of his experience and leadership skills.
Stanback agreed. He said there was no specific reason for leaving early and that he was just ready to retire.
“I think I’ve accomplished what I came to do, and I’m ready to move on,” he said Friday. “Roger received over 60 percent of the vote in the primary. He’s been working closely with me, and I just want to give him a chance and take over.”
Echols received his bachelor’s degree in economics from UNC-Chapel Hill and his law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to become DA,” Echols said. “The fact that it comes a few months earlier than expected certainly does not diminish the opportunity. In fact, it enhances it. I’m thankful to Judge Stanback for stepping in to be district attorney and serving the people of Durham and North Carolina and being an effective leader for the DA’s office.”
Stanback, a former judge, has been interim district attorney since 2012, when Tracey E. Cline was removed from office after a judge found she made false and reckless attacks on Durham’s senior judge.
He said he enjoyed his three years as district attorney.
“I’ve fostered a lot of relationships with the law enforcement people who have produced great relationships for me personally, and I just had a good time,” he said.
Stanback will retire Aug. 31. Echols will take office Sept. 1.