LWV Questionnaire Responses- District Attorney Todd Williams
What do you think makes you the best candidate for this office?
I offer unparalleled depth of experience as your District Attorney. Since 2001, I’ve represented defendants at every level in our justice system as a public defender and capital defender. I am a board certified specialist in criminal law. As DA, I have checked the abuse of power and resolved some of the most heinous crimes in Buncombe County’s history. I created new programs to ensure that the courthouse offers not only punishment but also recovery and opportunity through court diversion programming. We created wraparound services for vulnerable victims of violent crime through the Child Advocacy and Family Justice Centers. We have restored integrity and true justice to the DA’s office.
What is the most important issue for the District Attorney’s office currently?
Violence is more prevalent in neighborhoods with high unemployment and low upward mobility. In the past three years, violent crime has increased 40% in Asheville public housing. We must work together to stem the violence and create more opportunity for all. I propose that we begin a dialogue about the right of everyone to live in safety and to make the safety of all Asheville citizens first priority. The business, faith, legal, and governmental communities must collaborate to find solutions.
Are there any new programs you would like to implement at the DA’s office?
I implemented new diversion options for rehab, job training and other services in lieu of punishment through the Justice Resource Center--this is truly revolutionary. Now, we must monitor our progress and adjust programs to ensure effective, compassionate outcomes. I have recently proposed offering new mothers alternatives to incarceration. I have plans in place for the coming year, in collaboration with judges, to pursue aggressive strategies to reduce the jail population and reform cash bail.
What can the DA’s office do about the opioid crisis?
A collaborative and holistic approach among law enforcement, health care providers and the community is necessary to ensure that treatment, rehabilitation and safety are prioritized. I support dismissing non-violent charges in exchange for completion of voluntary treatment and restitution to victims. I will continue to use veterans and drug treatment courts. To deter and punish, I am charging opioid dealers in overdose deaths with murder-2 and seeking maximum prison terms in trafficking cases.
Do you believe the DA’s office receives sufficient funding to operate effectively? (Yes/No) NO. If no, what services could be improved with more funding?
The process of justice is slow. This is often hardest on the victim whose participation is key to holding an offender accountable. With more staff and more assistant DAs we could enhance victim services and hasten resolution of cases. Pay scale is also an issue. We lost an experienced assistant DA to another agency in our state that offered a 50% higher salary. This shows NC does not allot competitive ADA salaries. I have asked Buncombe County to supplement State funding, which is helping.
How can the DA’s office help to improve police department accountability and transparency?
APD's failure to immediately disclose the need for criminal investigation of its officer harmed public trust and delayed justice. I proposed a uniform policy for APD and countywide: 1) immediately reporting suspicion of criminal activity by officers to the DA’s office and 2) immediately joining the DA’s office in requesting an SBI investigation. No more "self-investigation". My office can then vigorously prosecute criminal charges.