We and many of our progressive friends support [Todd] Williams for what he has accomplished since he was elected four years ago. Most importantly, he has the support of those who work in the judicial system.
We’re puzzled by last week’s letter writer, who listed all the progressive changes that Williams’ opponent will make in the DA’s office [“Scales Puts Forth Truly Progressive Agenda,” April 25, Xpress]. Oddly, the writer listed [some of the] changes Williams has already carried out:
• Combined a variety of services under one roof for vulnerable victims of violent crime through the Child Advocacy and Family Justice Centers.
• Implemented new options for rehab, job training and other services in lieu of punishment for effective, compassionate outcomes.
• Helped veterans with minor offenses and drug convictions clear their records so they can get jobs.
• Proposed offering new mothers alternatives to incarceration.
• Put plans in place, in collaboration with judges, to pursue aggressive strategies to reduce the jail population and reform cash bail.
• Appointed the first black assistant DA.
Our district attorney has acted with integrity to date. For instance, while some question the timing of charges against [Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman in the beating of resident Johnnie Rush], the DA had to have an investigation submitted to his office prior to seeking charges. Others question why body-cam videos weren’t released in the interest of transparency, but only a judge could order their release, and the DA knew that release of the videos could jeopardize the criminal case. …
In a recent judicial district Bar Association’s candidate forum, his opponent, Ben Scales, agreed that “the key is being transparent with the public after justice has been served.” Scales also stated that he, too, would require an investigation prior to seeking charges against the officer.
Todd Williams considers the circumstances of each crime, rather than reflexively pushing for the harshest possible punishment. He supports a new program that will keep nonviolent, first-time offenders out of jail with the offer of a chance to get their life back on track.
Aren’t those all the kind of progressive actions we want our district attorney to implement?
Williams has been endorsed by, among others, Drew Reisinger, Dr. Olson Huff, Steve Cogburn, Van Duncan and Terry Van Duyn. He deserves your vote in this primary election to continue his good work as Buncombe County district attorney.
Your vote is critical in this normally low turnout primary, as the winner will face no opponent in the November election.
Thank you for voting!
— Valerie Hoh, community activist
Editor’s note: The Urban News reported April 13 that Williams plans to employ African-American attorney Jorge Redmon, who is licensed to practice in Georgia, as an assistant district attorney once he is licensed by the N.C. State Bar.
However, two readers have pointed out that Redmon would not be Buncombe County’s first black assistant district attorney. The late Asheville attorney Howard McGlohon served as an assistant DA years ago prior to entering private practice.