To help voters get to know the two candidates seeking election to the office of Hoke-Moore District Attorney this year, the News-Journal presents the following question-and-answer with candidates Arthur Donadio and Mike Hardin. Both candidates are Republicans and are on the Republican primary ballot in the March 3 election. No candidates of other parties filed to seek the office. Incumbent DAs Kristy Newton of Hoke County and Maureen Krueger of Moore County chose not to seek election.
Donadio and Hardin both responded to the request to answer questions.
1. How would you serve the citizens as District Attorney in the new combined Hoke-Moore district?
As the next elected District Attorney for Hoke and Moore counties, I would serve the public through continued hard work and dedication to my job. I am available to the public daily and law enforcement at any time of day or night. I will continue to work closely with law enforcement to provide public safety. I offer the citizens of the new Hoke and Moore County District 23 years of experience in assisting victims of crime and seeking justice. I have proven that I am a fair but firm prosecutor. Additionally, I offer experience in managing a two-county district, having served the past five years as the Chief Deputy District Attorney and nearly 10 years prior to that as the Senior Assistant District Attorney of Hoke County. I will continue to treat all citizens equally under the law. I will continue to follow the law and uphold the Constitutional rights of the community. I have a strong foundation, starting with God and family. I am a Christian and a devoted husband and father. I offer integrity and solid family values. I offer my public service and community involvement. I have served the Hoke County community for nearly 22 years as an assistant district attorney. I am active in the community through my service on the Child Advocacy Board, the Partnership for Children Board, the Liberty Hospice Board, and as a member of the Kiwanis club. Keeping both Hoke and Moore Counties safe is my mission.
2. What would you do as District Attorney to support a timely and fair justice process?
As the next District Attorney for Hoke and Moore Counties, I will continue to reduce the amount of time serious felony cases are awaiting trial in the local jail. I will work cooperatively with other members of the court team to develop and implement a case management plan that is both efficient and effective. I will implement a more rigid screening process. This screening process will allow decisions to be made about whether a case should be fast tracked. In North Carolina a person can appear before a magistrate and swear to a warrant or summons. These cases must be carefully scrutinized by the district attorney to ensure the charges are valid, the intentions of the parties are not influenced by improper means, and that valuable court time is not monopolized by frivolous claims. I will work with youthful offenders to attempt to help curb recidivism. As Frederick Douglas said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
As District Attorney, I offer experience and common sense. It takes a District Attorney with real experience prosecuting all types of cases and good common sense, to distinguish between the cases that deserve the maximum punishment and those that deserve mercy. Being able to distinguish between the two is the balance of fair justice for defendants and fair justice for the victims of crime. I will work to provide real justice for victims of violent crime. I will fully prosecute violent crime and violent offenders making Hoke and Moore Counties a safer place to live.
3. What experience would you bring with you into the office of District Attorney?
I am a career prosecutor and public servant. I have prosecuted thousands of cases over the past 23 years. I have trial experience as a prosecutor with nearly all types of cases before a judge and jury. I have conducted numerous jury trials as a prosecutor including serious felonies such as rape, robbery, child sex offense, kidnapping, and capital murder. I also have worked as a Special Prosecutor prosecuting cases for district attorneys in other North Carolina counties. I served as faculty for the National District Attorney’s Association for many years training prosecutors throughout the country. I currently serve on the North Carolina District Attorney’s Best Practices Committee drafting policies for district attorneys throughout the state. I spent 10 years as the Senior Assistant District Attorney in Hoke County supervising attorneys and staff. I have served as the Chief Deputy District Attorney in a two-county district for nearly five years. I know how to run a two-county district, with offices in separate counties. I am the only candidate who has successfully managed a two-county office. With the joining of Moore and Hoke counties, this is important because there will continue to be two separate offices. I can hit the ground running as your District Attorney, without delay due to a need for on-the-job training.
4. What are your thoughts on the condition of the Hoke County Courthouse, and do you think the county should build a new courthouse facility?
The Hoke County Courthouse is a historical building built in 1912. Let me first say that as a public servant and as a taxpayer that I understand that Hoke County citizens have many needs that must be met with limited resources. I will work in any conditions and I have never complained about having to work in the Hoke County Courthouse. I have tried many, many cases in this courthouse. As is the case with any old structure the years have taken their toll. Deterioration has made it very difficult to try cases in this building. I remember trying a murder case in this building during a heavy rainstorm and having buckets placed around the floor and by the jury box to catch leaking water. During the last hurricane, portions of the building flooded. As the county has grown and the number of cases have increased, this historic building has become outdated. The gallery can often be standing room only and on occasion individuals must wait in the hallway because there is not enough room in the courtroom. It is particularly difficult to conduct complex jury trials in this building, because there is not a jury waiting room, a separate space for jurors to be separated from case participants, and a secure area for crime victims. Jurors are often asked to stand in the hallway or outside the building while the court conducts business that is necessary outside the jury’s presence. The current building is not able to accommodate the use of technology that is often necessary in complex cases. Hoke County needs a facility where multiple courtrooms are available in one building. The courthouse must have space for criminal district court, criminal superior court, juvenile court, civil court including magistrates court, and space for all necessary staff. We need a place where citizens called for jury duty have a place to comfortably wait while the court conducts business. It is time for a new courthouse in Hoke County, but I will certainly fondly remember the old courthouse.