Name: Bridgette Odom
Occupation: Attorney, private practice
Party affiliation, if any: Republican
Political experience: None
Endorsements: Asheville Tea Party
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign?
Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Myself – $2,000
Louis Tomascetti – $1,000
Mark Delk – $500
2) What most distinguishes you from your opponent?
I’ve been a prosecutor in the 28th District, Buncombe County, and in the 30th District, seven westernmost counties, and now work in criminal defense and family law. I have a broader perspective of how the criminal-justice system operates, because I’ve recently worked as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.
3) What are the top three law-enforcement priorities in Buncombe County?
• Drugs: The BCSO has created an Interdiction Unit and BCAT, multiagency drug task force, focusing on area drug traffickers.
• Gangs: The APD has led the region in suppressing criminal street-gang activity.
• Habitual felons: Career criminals are an issue, and I will vigorously pursue them through habitual-offender laws.
4) What areas need improvement in the district attorney's office?
• Fairness: There are more than 20 inmates in jail waiting 200 or more days for trial.
• Plea bargains: I will put a greater focus on trying cases.
• Public relations: I will work with media and agencies to improve communication and involvement in the criminal-justice system.
5) What are the best ways to deal with drug enforcement?
Treatment and accountability. For abusers, there are community agencies to provide treatment and support. For traffickers, seeking sentences that reflect the damage hard drugs create in our society. Youth education and diversion programs help reduce the community's drug problem. Drugs are often the root cause of property and violent crimes.
6) What do you think about the office's handling of plea bargains?
Plea bargains are a necessary part of the justice system. Court time is limited, and every case cannot go to trial. Many cases involving individual (versus societal) victims could go to trial but are unilaterally reduced or dismissed. Everyone deserves a fair day in court: the accused and the victim.
7) What steps would you take to improve prosecution of rape and domestic violence?
I will designate specially trained prosecutors to handle these cases, understanding the fact that victims are often afraid of or dependent upon the defendant. Domestic violence is not acceptable in our community and must be treated seriously in court. Sexual offenders will be held accountable in the strictest way possible.
8) What's the best way to deal with habitual offenders, such as some of the homeless, who have long records of misdemeanor crimes?
I will evaluate the effectiveness of the Nuisance Court program, which orders offenders to complete community service or participate in treatment programs. I have built a relationship with community agencies that work with chronic homelessness and plan to use them as a resource to defeat recidivism in nuisance crimes.
9) How would you deal with gang activity?
Support prevention, intervention and diversion collaboratives like Changing Together (Buncombe County Gang Violence Prevention Project). Supporting intelligence-based policing that identifies gang members and conflicts before they occur. I will use the Street Gang Suppression Act and habitual-offender statutes to keep the public safe, incarcerating violent members and leaders.
10) What steps, if any, should be taken to improve conviction rates and get longer sentences for violent criminals?
The district attorney and police can identify violent criminals, ensuring that they’re incarcerated before re-offending. Violent offenders will only receive plea bargains that have the public's safety in mind. Offenders who decline will be tried with an emphasis on presenting the judge any aggravating factors that could lengthen the sentence.