Freeman wins Wake DA race
Posted November 4, 2014
Updated November 5, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Nancy Lorrin Freeman, the Wake County clerk of Superior Court and a former assistant district attorney, defeated attorney John Bryant in the Wake County district attorney’s race Tuesday night.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Freeman, a Democrat, obtained 56 percent of the vote to defeat Bryant, a Republican, who obtained 44 percent, according to unofficial results from the State Board of Elections.
Both candidates were vying to succeed longtime District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who stepped down in March to move to private practice.
Willoughby, a Democrat, endorsed Freeman, while Republican Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison backed Bryant.
Freeman will be Wake County's first new district attorney in nearly 30 years.
"I'm excited about where we are right now, and I'm looking forward to this new challenge," Freeman said from her home. "We have a commitment to continue to build a criminal justice system that's fair and to keep the community safe. As the county grows, we have to make sure we're using our resources the very best way."
Freeman said the biggest challenge is how Wake County's growth impacts the court system.
"We want to work to make sure we have a criminal justice system that the public feels good about and they can trust but also keeps us safe, and that is going to be the challenge,” she said.
In addition to serving as the top prosecutor in one of North Carolina's largest counties, the Wake County district attorney is politically significant, having authority to pursue criminal charges in state government corruption cases.
During her campaign, Freeman touted her management experience, noting that she worked with Willoughby and judges to keep the justice system moving in recent years. She also said she has worked with crime victims and law enforcement officers and evaluated which cases to take to trial in her previous jobs.
Freeman also said she has introduced more technology into the clerk's office and hopes to do likewise in the prosecutor's office, such as case management systems to ensure that witnesses and officers know when they need to be in court so cases aren't continued. That would help the system operate more efficiently in light of continued tight state funding, which she said is putting a strain on the system.
Bryant did not officially concede Tuesday night but acknowledged that the votes were clearly in Freeman's favor. He said that he felt his trial experience would have made him a good district attorney.