Wake County Superior Court, District 10C Becky Holt
With seven years left in his term, Paul Gessner peaced out on his Wake County Superior Court post at the end of 2015. He's now serving as attorney counsel for the Wake County Sheriff's Office, a gig that allows him to double dip—collecting state retirement benefits while drawing a full paycheck from Wake County. Nice work if you can get it.
Five attorneys have filed to succeed him on the bench. The primary on Tuesday is nonpartisan and designed to whittle the race down to two for the election in November.
Fun fact about Wake County Superior Court judges: all five of them are men. (Kendra Hill, a special superior court judge in Wake, is an exception, but she was appointed by former Governor Bev Perdue and is not required to live in the district.) A greater female perspective on the bench seems like a worthy goal.
Even if that weren't the case, though, we still think Becky Holt is the best pick to fill Gessner's vacancy. As assistant district attorney in Wake County, Holt has successfully prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the 2000 fatal poisoning of UNC-Chapel Hill AIDS researcher Eric Miller and the grisly murder of Laura Jean Ackerson by Amanda and Grant Hayes. Holt notes that she has more experience than any of the other candidates. That is hard to dispute; she has been in the DA's office for twenty-seven years.
Karlene Turrentine worked to protect farmers' rights at the Land Loss Prevention Project in Durham before starting her own firm. She has served as the attorney for Warren County since 2009, but has lately come under fire there for submitting legal fees dramatically higher than those of her predecessors.
Hoyt Tessener, a personal injury lawyer in Raleigh, has had some scrapes with the law that give us pause. He was charged with assault in 2011 after punching a bar manager. (Tessener was found not guilty after it could not be determined who threw the first punch.) He also caused a disturbance in a Wilmington police station after his wife was pulled over for a DUI.
Ronnie Ansley has run for and lost just about every position imaginable: lieutenant governor, U.S. House, N.C. Supreme Court, agricultural commission, and, in 2014, Wake County District Court judge. He has presented himself as a moderate in the past but is now talking about "personal responsibility" and "family values," conservative dog-whistle phrases that give us the creeps.
Likewise, Michael Denning, who has served as a Wake County District Court judge since 2010, boasts that he is "the only conservative choice." No thanks.