Cayton, Sutton moving on to general election

Published 2:46 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Community Editor

Darrell Cayton Jr. was the unofficial top vote-getter in the nonpartisan primary battle for the District Court seat being vacated by retiring Judge Sam Grimes.
Cayton, a Washington attorney and Beaufort County native, barely edged fellow Beaufort County native Watsi Sutton for the most votes in the four-way race, but each advances to the Nov. 2 general election, with the winner assuming the seat now held by Grimes.
Cayton tallied 4,239 unofficial votes in the race, which played out on ballots in five counties — Beaufort, Hyde Martin, Tyrrell and Washington. Sutton came in 120 votes behind him with 4,119 unofficial votes, while Jonathan Jones collected 3,683 votes and Sonia Privette garnered 3,428 votes to round out the race.
Cayton and Sutton finished one and two, respectively, in Beaufort County, as well. Cayton ran away with the race in the county with 2,139 unofficial votes, while Sutton totaled 1,424 votes. Jones received 1,399 total votes, while Privette tallied 1,128 votes.
“Fantastic,” said Cayton, reacting to news that he finished first in the primary.
“I’m very thankful,” he said. “I’m thrilled with the results.”
Cayton, 47, a graduate of Aurora High School, said he’s looking forward to the general election.
“It’s been so much fun. I can’t wait until November,” he said.
Cayton said he knows it’ll be a close race, but he is confident in his campaign team.
“We’ve worked hard,” he said. “I’ve had a tremendous number of great folks working for me.”
Sutton said she is equally confident in her campaign.
“My team has worked hard and pounded the pavement,” she said. “I look forward to November when we can pick it up even further.”
After hearing that she was advancing, Sutton joked that she had thought briefly about what she might say if she had advanced to the general election.
“I feel tremendously blessed,” she said. “I will not take the credit, it belongs to God.”
Sutton, 34, was the youngest of the four candidates running in the primary.
She touched on the age issue during the Washington Daily News Candidates Forum.
“I understand that experience is not the sole factor in who will win this race,” Sutton said during her opening remarks at the forum. “Judges must make decisions that uphold the law, but also must do so in a fair and balanced approach.”
Sutton, like Cayton, is a Washington attorney. She is a former assistant district attorney and a former staff attorney and managing attorney in the New Bern office of Legal Aid of North Carolina. She graduated from Washington High School in 1997, ranking fifth in a class of 225.
During the forum, Cayton also addressed experience, saying his experience as a private attorney in civil cases and criminal cases separated him from the other candidates.
“I haven’t been pigeon-holed in my career,” he said, noting that he’s the only candidate that has not been an assistant district attorney.
“And I don’t see that as a disadvantage for the simple reason that the requirements are the same: know the law, understand the facts and evidence and apply the law,” Cayton said during his opening remarks at the forum.