Smithfield Herald

Political Roundup: March 2

Branch files for clerk of court

Keith Branch, a Johnston County school board member, has filed as a Republican candidate for Johnston County clerk of court.

“I will bring proven leadership with a voice of fiscal accountability to the office of the clerk,” he said in announcing his candidacy.

Branch owns an Allstate Insurance agency in Clayton. “As a business owner who deals with the public every day, I understand that relationships must be built on excellent customer service, trust, confidence and confidentiality,” he said. “I will provide this same service to the clients of the clerk’s office.”

Branch said his candidacy enjoyed broad support. “I have received overwhelming support since stating my intentions to run for clerk of Superior Court, and I look forward to the opportunity of continuing to serve the citizens of Johnston County in this new role,” he said.

Branch, twice elected, is serving his sixth year on the Johnston County Board of Education. Before becoming an Allstate agency owner, he was an assistant N.C. state auditor for 10 years. He is a graduate of N.C. State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Branch lives in Wilson’s Mills with his wife Stephanie and daughter Dana. His son, Andy, serves in the U.S. Navy and is stationed in San Diego.

Branch is a member of Wilson’s Mills Baptist Church and the Wilson’s Mills Planning Board.

Ball files to succeed Crocker

Michelle Creech Ball filed Feb. 21 as a Republican candidate for Johnston County clerk of court.

On the campaign trail, Ball said, the question she hears most often is “What does the clerk do?”

“The clerk and staff function as the secretary to the court system, managing the court’s paperwork, people and money,” she tells voters.

Ball, a paralegal, praised the long tenure of retiring Clerk of Court Will Crocker. “Mr. Crocker has provided our county excellent leadership as the Clerk and has served our growing county well,” she said. “My working knowledge of the office comes from the past 22 years of constant interactions with either Mr. Crocker or his staff. I have learned and experienced much there. I find that the clerk’s office is well positioned to serve our growing county and sweeping change is unnecessary.”

Ball lives in Smithfield with her husband, Jerry, and their four children. They are members of First Baptist Church.

Doyle will seek third term

Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle has announced that she intends to seek a third four-year term.

Doyle, a Republican, said her office continues to be one of the most efficient and effective in the state in dispensing of criminal cases in Superior Court. She pointed to numbers showing that her office disposes of cases quickly, both felony and misdemeanor cases.

“I am extremely proud of my staff and how efficiently they have worked to dispose of cases in a timely manner while still achieving excellent results,” Doyle said.

“My office could not have been so successful without the help of law enforcement, judges and other courtroom personnel who all work together to get the job done with limited resources,” she said.

Kenly-area man files for sheriff

Jim Davenport, a former police officer in Baltimore County, Md., is running for sheriff of Johnston County.

Davenport, 58, makes his home near Kenly with his wife, Grey Crockrell Davenport. “My wife’s family has been here over 220 years,” he said.

Davenport, who retired from the Rocky Mount Police Department in 2013, said he is not affiliated with a political party. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In a statement, Davenport went on the offensive against Sheriff Steve Bizzell, questioning his qualifications and his commitment to protecting all Johnston residents equally.

“I am only prejudiced against persons who victimize others,” Davenport said. “Steve has shown his prejudice against an retire race of people.”

Davenport has been a sheriff's deputy and police officer in Maryland, an investigator with the State of Pennsylvania, an officer with the N.C. General Assembly police force and an officer in Rocky Mount.

“If your family is in danger, do you want a highly trained and experienced law enforcement professional or a politician to respond?” he asked.