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VOTER GUIDE: District Court Judge Q&A

In its 2021 session, the state Legislature created a new District Court judgeship for District 29B, which is made up of Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties.

Candidates are Jason R. Hayes, an assistant district attorney, and Abe Hudson, a Marine Corps veteran and Henderson County magistrate.

Here’s the Lightning Q&A:

Please tell us your name, occupation, age, family information (spouse and children) and where you live.
Hayes: “My name is Jason R. Hayes. I am 49 years old, and I am an attorney. Currently, I work as the supervising Assistant District Attorney in the D.A.’s offices of Transylvania and Polk counties. My wife, Dr. Maggie Hayes, and I have been married since 2012. Together, my wife and I have three children: Fiona 8, Marshall, 6, and Zachary, 6.”
Hudson: “My name is Abe Hudson, I am 42 years old, currently I serve as a magistrate in Henderson County. My wife, Jessica, and I have three young daughters, Violet, Iris and Aster. We live in Etowah.”

Why are you running District Court judge?
Hudson: “I have served as a magistrate for nearly 7 years now, amongst other duties I am the judge in a most crucial phase of the criminal process, the moment that a person becomes a defendant or not. It is a role which requires great responsibility and judgement. On the civil side I preside over the small claims court division of district court. This new position is the next step up, and since there is no incumbent it is an excellent opportunity for which it is imperative that the right candidate is elected.”

Hayes: “I have over 20 years of experience working in Western North Carolina as both a prosecutor and a private attorney, primarily in Henderson, Transylvania and Polk counties. I have a vested interest in the courts of this district functioning effectively and serving the public ‘without favor’ as it was intended. For the court system of Judicial District 29B to properly serve the people, we need an experienced jurists who will ensure the law is applied equally, fairly, and consistently to all our people. I will draw on my broad experience and unique perspective to ensure that my decisions are based strictly on the written law and not on personal or political beliefs.”
Tell us about your background and experience that qualifies you for a judgeship.
Hayes: “I graduated from East Carolina University in 1996 (B.A., psychology) and Wake Forest University School of Law in 2001. I have five years of combined experience as a prosecutor and 15 years in private practice. As an assistant D.A., I prosecute hundreds of criminal cases each week in District Court as well as felonies in Superior Court. As the supervising assistant D.A. of two offices, I also oversee the work of other assistant D.A.s. For 15 years, I worked in private practice. As a private attorney, I represented thousands of clients in cases involving family law, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency, guardianship, adoption, small claims and criminal offenses.”
Hudson: “My work as a magistrate has provided me the necessary experience to further continue my role as a judicial official. My prior legal experience includes working as an attorney in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Before becoming an attorney I honorably served an enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps. I still maintain that first oath I took to support and defend our Constitution.”

What priorities would you have for District 29B if you are elected?
Hudson: “I have great respect for our elected judges currently serving, many of them have at one time or another found themselves in a position to nominate, renominate, select, or reselect me and have unanimously done so. My priority would be working with them to integrate myself into the work they are already doing. I myself am most interested in increasing the accessibility and efficiency of the court and given my history of dedication to duty and work ethic I believe I can be a great asset in that pursuit. Furthermore, these are qualities I exhibit daily as magistrate.”
Hayes: “My priorities are to be faithful to the law and remain unswayed by partisan interests, public opinion or fear of criticism. I will not act as an activist from the bench. I will conduct myself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. I pledge to be patient, dignified, and professional and will work to dispose promptly of the business of the courts and reject unnecessary delay, which may be harmful to the interests of any litigant or the public. Finally, I will apply the law equally and fairly.”