Hendersonville – Henderson County voters will decide the local district attorney and a new judgeship — among several county, state and federal races in the Tuesday, May 17 primary.
Early voting is Thursday, May 12 and Friday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m., and ends Saturday, May 14 at 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Early voting is in Flat Rock Village Hall, Fletcher Town Hall, Etowah Library, and the Board of Elections office at 75 E. Central St. in Hendersonville.
The multi-candidate primaries of both main parties take center stage in the races for U.S. House District 11 and the U.S. Senate seat Richard Burr is vacating. There is a state supreme court judge and two appellate judicial races on the ballot in the county.
However, a handful of other positions warrant attention. These primaries are for Republican candidates only.
A newly-created District Court 29B seat pits Jason R. Hayes versus Abe Hudson. Both pledge impartiality, integrity and efficiency. Both are married with three young children.
This district serves Henderson, and also Transylvania and Polk counties — the two counties for which Hayes is a supervising assistant district attorney. He is an assistant to D.A. Andrew Murray, and worked in two stints for prior D.A.s Jeff Hunt and Greg Newman. Hayes stated on his campaign website he will be consistent in decisions and “tough, but consistent and fair. I will hold individuals accountable.”
Hayes said his credentials include sticking to the law and remaining impartial — and thereby avoiding “activist” decisions that are partisan or pressured by public opinion or request for favors.
Hayes, 49, has five years of experience in prosecuting felony cases in superior court, and hundreds of criminal cases weekly in district court. Operating as two-county “team leader” since July of 2021, Hayes oversees prosecution in superior, district, juvenile and traffic courts.
The Clemmons native was a private attorney in Henderson County for 14 years. He handled criminal defense. He ran his own firm specializing in family law, for a decade. He earned his law degree in 2001 from Wake Forest.
Hayes said he is patient, dignified and efficient and will avoid unnecessary case delays.
Check jasonhayes4districtcourtjudge.com for more info.
Hudson, 42, is a magistrate in Henderson County. He handles civil small claim cases — which involve disputes of less than $10,000. He determines if there is enough probable cause for pursuit of criminal prosecution. He also decides about bond amounts and conditions for release of criminal defendants, search warrants, vehicle seizures, and evictions.
He said he has a strong work ethic and wants to excel in efficiency and accessibility as a judge, as he does as a magistrate.
Hudson previously was an attorney in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. His law degree is from Appalachian State.
The Marine veteran bicycled his way through the three counties. He lives in Etowah.
Check abeforjudge.com for more info.
The Prosecutorial District 42 attorney GOP primary is between incumbent D.A. Andrew Murray and challenger Mary Ann Jacobson Hollocker. She lost four years ago in the primary to then-D.A. Greg Newman.
After eight years as the D.A., Newman was forced to step down in late April of last year. This was after a state superior court judge determined Newman engaged in “willful misconduct in office.” Allegations were largely that Newman did not adequately prosecute some sexual offense cases. Newman, long active in local GOP politics, said he thought there were partisan moves behind his ouster. Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was lauded by many GOP leaders for appointing Murray to fill the vacancy with another Republican.
Murray has endorsements of sheriffs of all three counties he serves. Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin stated that Murray and staff “successfully prosecuted some of the worst criminals in the district. We have formed a strong relationship.”
Murray, 60, has 11 total years prosecuting on federal and state levels. He was a D.A. in Charlotte. He led the U.S. Attorney’s office for WNC. He was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November of 2017. GOP U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis nominated him. However, Murray lost his post early last year as part of a partisan power sweep as Pres. Joe Biden asked all Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign.
Murray’s federal office “prosecuted cases involving gangs, violent crime, firearms, domestic and international drug trafficking, immigration, human trafficking, child exploitation, investment fraud, elder fraud, COVID-19 fraud, securities and banking fraud, tax fraud, healthcare fraud and cybercrime,” according to a Department of Justice press release.
Murray’s law degree is from UNC-Chapel Hill. Retired Coast Guard Capt. Murray points to his conservative approach on crime — which some of his supporters see as potential distinction from his challenger.
Check andrewmurrayda.com/ for more info.
Hollocker said “justice” is her priority, as she stated on her campaign website.
She stated that while working for a chief prosecutor in Hawaii, she learned to explore social cures for such problems as drug abuse. She sought to find out if crimes were triggered by drug abuse, anger, or mental health issues. “What can we do to fix it? Can we assist this person, so that they are once again a productive member of our society?”
She said she will try to lessen case dismissals, or continuances and the requiring of crime victims to routinely attend each session. She stated she will try to get victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults more comfortable about testifying about what happened.
Hollocker worked 12 years in Hawaii for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and also the prosecuting attorney’s office. After moving to Hendersonville in 2012, she worked as a magistrate, Brevard College criminal justice professor, Transylvania County DSS attorney, then for Neumann Law Firm in Brevard. She is an alumnus of Golden Gate (Calif.) University School of Law.
Check hollockerforda.com for more info.