Echols soundly defeats challengers for D.A.

May. 06, 2014 @ 11:00 PM

Roger Echols overwhelmingly defeated his two Democratic challengers Tuesday in the race for Durham County district attorney, virtually assuring his victory in the Nov. 4 general election.

Unofficial election returns showed Echols with 14,564 votes (61.4 percent), compared to attorney Brian Aus with 6,988 (29.5 percent) and Mitchell Garrell with 2,134 (9 percent).

There are no Republican challengers, which means Echols will have no opposition in November unless an unaffiliated or write-in challenger files for the race this summer.

“I’m happy,” Echols said Tuesday night after results showed him the winner. “I put a lot of effort into the campaign.”

Echols interrupted an interview with a reporter to receive congratulatory phone calls from Aus and Garrell.

“They were gracious and very classy, to say the least,” he said.

Echols credited his supporters for the victory.

“I think they saw something in me that they respect as a person and a prosecutor, and a leader in the office,” he said. “And I think people respect the way I ran the campaign. I made it about the issues, and I think that resonated well.”

Echols, chief assistant prosecutor in the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, said he focused his campaign on issues he considers important: public safety, victim rights and “providing equal protection under the law.”

“While some people may think those things are run-of-the-mill, that’s what a prosecutor’s office is,” Echols said. “So I would like to strengthen the things we do, working with those in the D.A.’s office and in law enforcement. I want to run the office with fairness and integrity.”

He said another priority will be to work with the community “to build coalitions so we can better react to what the community wants out of our office, and make an impact in the lives of young people who are at risk, doing it in a proactive way instead of always reacting to crime after it’s committed.”

Echols, 40, was hired as an assistant prosecutor in 2010 by former District Attorney Tracey Cline, who was removed from office in 2012 by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood after a public feud with Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson.

Gov. Beverly Perdue named retired Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback to complete Cline’s term. Stanback, who is expected to leave office in December, endorsed Echols in the election, and was the single-largest donor ($700) other than Echols to his campaign.

Stanback promoted Echols to chief assistant D.A., helping to supervise the office’s 19 other assistant prosecutors.

Echols will be sworn into office in January.