CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – February 26th was the last day candidates could file to run for Mecklenburg County District Attorney and only two men threw their hats into the ring.
Current District Attorney Peter Gilchrist has held the position since 1975. In late 2009, Gilchrist announced he would not seek re-election in 2010.
The two candidates, Republican Andrew Murray and Democrat Michael Barnes, sat down to talk with me recently about their qualifications and why they believe this race is extremely significant in Charlotte's fight against crime.
Michael Barnes is a Charlotte city councilman who has been in private practice for over 10 years. Prior to attending law school, the 38-year-old was a personal banker.
He earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University and an undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Barnes said he is running for DA because he wants to make a difference and because "party leaders" encouraged him to enter the race last fall.
His opponent, Andrew Murray, was an Assistant DA in Mecklenburg County after graduating law school from UNC-Chapel Hill.
The 48-year-old earned his undergraduate degree from UNC-Charlotte. He says he also spent years in a leadership role with the Coast Guard.
Murray left the DA's office after four years to enter private practice. While working for current DA Peter Gilchrist in 1993, Murray said he knew that one day he wanted to hold the title himself.
If elected, Barnes said one of his main goals would be to assign Assistant DAs to work cases in specific police divisions, and ultimately, improve the relationship between the DA's office and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
"I know right now there are some challenges [in that relationship] and I think it can be improved, and I think I can help improve it," Barnes said.
If Murray is elected, one of his main goals would be to keep criminals in jail and set higher bonds for people who use guns to commit crimes.
"I'm not a big fan [of] having an ankle bracelet on someone who has committed a robbery," Murray said. "I think they ought to stay and wait."
To listen to each of the candidates' responses to our questions, click on the video icon above under "Video Gallery" entitled WEB EXTRA: Murray and Barnes respond to our questions.
Click on the other video icon to see my story which aired Monday, March 1 on WBTV News at 6 p.m., and WBTV News at 10 p.m. on WJZY.