The unofficial results are in for the race to be the Democratic nominee for district court judge in Orange and Chatham counties. Hathaway Pendergrass has won the primary with 54.84 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
There are no Republicans running in the race, so Pendergrass will likely claim the third seat in District 15b. The district courts hear civil cases involving less than $25,000 and misdemeanors, as well as juvenile cases.
Pendergrass is a Carrboro native and UNC graduate who practices law in Chapel Hill. He emphasized his local roots and the importance of being close to the community in his campaign.
Pendergrass said he felt humbled by the election result.
"We ran a community campaign from day one,” Pendergrass said. “And I think we just saw the community respond and turn out. Having grown up here, and been so connected with people for years and years and years, it means a lot to me to get to gain their confidence.”
As part of Pendergrass’ platform, he has been a proponent of recovery court, which provides a treatment alternative to those facing drug charges, instead of incarceration.
The other candidates in the race were Erika Bales, Lamar Proctor and Noah Oswald. The N.C. State Board of Elections previously said Bales, who was registered as unaffiliated, would not be able to accept the Democratic nomination had she won. Bales expressed frustration that she was not made aware that she needed to register as one party, and that she tends to vote for Democratic candidates and support Democratic policies.
UNC Young Democrats president Rupi Jain said at a Super Tuesday watch party at the Varsity Theater that district court judges were an important position for students.
“Anything from Silent Sam to traffic tickets goes to our district court judge, so knowing who’s on the ballot and who’s going to be deciding those cases is really important,” Jain said.
Pendergrass said as a former UNC student and an attorney who represents students, he is grateful for their support.
“I take it very seriously, the respect that students have to cast a ballot for somebody in a local election,” he said.
Logan Hartley, a graduate student at UNC who lives in Carrboro, said he researched local judges before voting.
“I was looking up local candidates and some of the judges are working on a bail reform, which I am really for, and kind of helping with that and the inequity in our justice system, and incarceration rates, and they were talking about creating a alternatives instead of just having mass incarceration, so I think that is pretty neat,” he said.
Pendergrass said equity was an important part of his vision for the job.
“What I will do is treat every person that comes before me with the exact same amount of dignity and respect and compassion, no matter where they come from, how much money they earn, what they look like, who they love,” Pendergrass said.
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Maddie Ellis and Audrey Selley contributed reporting.
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