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Dem lawyer seeks to unseat DA: Challenger vows to ‘put people over politics’ and to keep ‘our community safe’
Thursday, 03 February 2022 16:42

From Staff Reports

Former Buncombe County First Assistant District Attorney Doug Edwards will seek the Democratic nomination for district attorney, according to an announcement Edwards emailed Jan. 25 to the Daily Planet.

 “Buncombe County deserves a district attorney who is a leader, with substantial experience, and is committed to keeping our community safe,” Edwards said. 

“While prosecution is the primary responsibility of the D.A., it is not the sole objective. The objective is to understand the law and ensure its fair application to ensure public safety in every corner of Buncombe County. The role, when done properly, protects individual rights and the community. We need a D.A. who will put people over politics, isn’t afraid to lead, and who will do the right thing.” 

Meanwhile, the Daily Planet emailed incumbent DA Todd Williams on Jan 27 for his response to Edwards’ announcement —  and did not hear back from Williams by the newspaper’s deadline for this edition.

As for Edwards, he is a North Carolina native who received a bachelor’s of science degree at Wingate University, and earned a law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law. 

He served as an assistant district attorney for more than10 years “where he prosecuted complex, high level felony offenses including murder, firearm offenses, vehicular homicide, and habitual offenders,” the press release noted.

 “A lack of clear direction and support over the last seven years has resulted in high turnover and low morale within the District Attorney’s office and law enforcement alike, and the negative impact on public safety is apparent,” Edwards said. “I will be a district attorney that provides strong leadership, will be proactive in restoring relationships, and will work hard to ensure that we all live in a safe and healthy community.”

 As D.A., Edwards said in his announcement that he “will bring a victim-centered, common-sense approach to public safety, ensuring fair and consistent outcomes. He will focus resources on the most serious cases including those involving gun violence, sex offenses, and high-level drug trafficking. 

“He will be responsive to the concerns of local community members and business owners dealing with criminal activity by working together with partners to address the issues at hand. 

“Doug will display compassion by utilizing pre-trial diversion programs, treatment courts, and alternatives to incarceration for youthful, low-level, and non-violent offenders.”

The announcement added, “Throughout his career, Edwards has been a strong advocate for traffic safety and victim rights. In 2018, he was named the North Carolina MADD Superior Court Prosecutor of the Year, in recognition of his efforts in combating impaired driving. 

“In addition, Doug served on the National MADD Child Endangerment Panel, helping make national policy recommendations to address child fatalities and injuries due to impaired drivers.

 He understands the importance of protecting the community, advocating for victims, and holding offenders accountable, while also seeking to better understand and address the causes of crime with the ultimate goals of fairness and safety for all citizens. 

“He values diversity, transparency, and community engagement, and has the credibility, experience, and courage to lead the District Attorney’s office forward,” the announcement stated.

 “Doug is a board-certified specialist in state criminal Law. He lives in Asheville with his wife, Nur Badr Edwards, and their three children. For more information visit,” Edwards’ announcement stated.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview on Jan. 30 with the Daily Planet, Edwards said, “I do want to support law enforcement and I want them to know there is support there, but again I would emphasize that I want there to be trust in the district attorney’s office — and I want everyone in the community to feel they are being treated fairly and equally.”

Regarding accusations that Todd Williams, the current DA, is dismissing a huge number of cases, which is encouraging the criminal element and discouraging the Asheville Police Department from making arrests, Edwards said, “I’m not in a position to comment on that, at this point.

“I do think the concerns raised by the police department and community are concerns that need to be looked at and addressed... The case dismissal rates, I think, kind of speak for themselves.”

Also, Edwards said that he believes the “high turnover in the (DA’s) office is due to a lack of leadership and support” within the office. 

He reiterated that he is seeking to emphasize “just the general idea that I’d like to bring strong leadership and real experience to the (DA’s) office to boost morale within the office, as well as in the law enforcement community, and to increase trust in the business community and the citizenry as a whole. 

“I also have concerns about violent crime in the community. I’ve tried cases involving violent crime, including murders and cases involving children in the community, so I have that experience. I’m also concerned about the opioid epidemic, as well as property crimes.”

Through his years on the job, “I’ve developed relationships, not just with law enforcement, but strong working relationships with colleagues in the legal system and community organizations, all of which are built on mutual trust and respect.

“Ultimately, I’m invested in this community. I care about the community. My ultimate goal is to make the community a safe place for everyone and to increase public safety,” Edwards said.

So how would Edwards rate “public safety” in Asheville now versus in the past? the Daily Planet asked.

“I think it could be improved,” Edwards replied. “It is my impression it could be better.”



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