Two announce for judge’s seat

Published 7:32 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

Staff Writer

Two local attorneys announced their intentions to run for a judicial seat currently held by Judge Sam Grimes of Washington.
The announcements came Wednesday night near the end of the Beaufort County Democratic Women’s monthly meeting in Washington.
Grimes, a District Court judge, isn’t seeking re-election, said Sonia Privette, one of the attorneys.
A state document indicates that Grimes is retiring.
Along with lawyer Watsi Sutton, Privette said she plans to file and run for the seat, which carries a four-year term.
The filing period starts at noon Feb. 8 and ends at noon Feb. 26.
Sutton and Privette are Washington-based attorneys.
Grimes has long served on the bench in Judicial District 2, which encompasses Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell and Washington counties.
Grimes couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.
In a Nov. 30, 2009, letter to the State Board of Elections, Grimes wrote that he was closing out his campaign committee.
“Please be advised that I will not be a candidate for re-election in 2010 as I will retire at the end of my current term,” he wrote.
In her remarks, Privette noted that she’s been a member of the Democratic Women for nearly 20 years and is a past president of the organization.
The judicial elections are nonpartisan, she told the club. The top two vote-getters will advance from the May 4 primary to face off in the Nov. 2 general election, she said.
Privette iterated that she is not making a play for the seat held by District Court Judge Regina Parker of Williamston. Parker is seeking re-election, Privette said.
In her turn up, Sutton said she is a new member of the Democratic Women, having joined Wednesday.
She said she was born and raised in Washington, graduating from Washington High School in 1994.
After law school and a legal-aid stint, she returned to practice law in her hometown, she indicated.
Sutton and Privette are two among a handful of names being floated as possible replacements for Grimes. Whether other candidates for the job have come forward publicly couldn’t immediately be determined Thursday.
In other news, the club heard a report from Akilah R. Ensley, a partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau.
Ensley serves 19 counties in eastern North Carolina.
“It is critical to have a very accurate census count,” she told around 25 members and guests of the club.
Census figures influence the annual allocation of $400 billion in federal funds to the states, Ensley shared.
“A lot comes out of that funding, and a lot of it relies heavily on the census count,” she said.
She said the count also impacts legislative redistricting, in which state lawmakers redraw district lines for state House, state Senate and congressional seats.
Redistricting is conducted following each census.
“It’s vital, it’s critical,” Ensley said of the end-of-decade count. “I cannot stress that enough.”
One census form will be mailed to each household — one short form this time around, according to Ensley. The form takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, she said.
“It’s 10 minutes, 10 questions,” she commented. “It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s confidential.”
The old long form has been eliminated, she said. The long form took about an hour and a half to fill out, Ensley told her audience.
“A lot of people were not very happy with that form,” she said.
She advised that everything the bureau does with personal information is private, relating that the agency’s records are sealed for 72 years.
“We do not share any information,” she said.
In fact, she continued, she can’t relay any personal information to anyone outside the bureau for life, even if she leaves her job.
Giving personal census information to an outside party is a crime potentially punishable by a six-figure fine and jail time, Ensley said.
“I take it very seriously,” she said of her responsibility.
The bureau is hiring around 24,000 temporary workers in North Carolina, Ensley said. Applicants have to take a 30-minute exam and pass a background check, and they also must have reliable transportation.
The jobs pay $11 an hour for up to 40 hours a week, she said.
For more on the unfolding judicial races, see future editions.
Staff Writer Betty Mitchell Gray contributed to this story.