Following long-time District Attorney Jim Woodall's retirement announcement last year, two Assistant District Attorneys threw their hats in the ring for Woodall’s spot: Jeff Nieman and Kayley Taber.
The two will face off in the Democratic primary election on May 17, and the winner will run unopposed in the general election. No other parties had candidates run in District 18, which includes Orange and Chatham counties.
Since graduating from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 2006, Nieman has worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Chapel Hill area for 16 years. During this time, Nieman has also served as Vice-Chair of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, Chair of the Orange County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and an adjunct law school professor at NCCU.
Nieman said he chose to run for District Attorney because he felt the position would give him the best opportunity to positively impact his community.
“The actor in the criminal justice system that has the ability to have the most impact on how the local criminal justice system works is the DA,” Nieman said. “I think the DA can be an agent for positive change.”
Nieman said his priorities for improving the community include reducing the criminal penalties for children, eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system and ending the criminalization of poverty.
In 2017, Nieman co-founded the North Carolina Driver’s License Restoration Project to provide resources to those who had their license revoked because they were unable to pay a fine. He has testified in federal court as an expert on how license revocation for financial reasons disproportionately affects people of color.
“The financial burdens that the criminal justice system puts on people can have a racially disparate effect,” he said.