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Entzminger, Hazelton to face off for judge seat

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District Court Judge candidate Daniel Hines Entzminger talks to a voter at the polling place at the Winterville Fire Department on Tuesday afternoon.


Kristin Zachary

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Attorneys Daniel Hines Entzminger and Wendy Hazelton are the top two vote-getters in the Pitt County District Court judge race and will face off in November for the seat.

Entzminger, a private practice attorney, received 33.5 percent of the vote, and Hazelton, an assistant public defender, had 29.8 percent, advancing them to the general election.

About 32 percent of the county’s registered voters turned out for the primary, with 36,723 ballots cast. Entzminger received 11,254 of those votes, and Hazelton received 10,009 votes in unofficial totals.

The two candidates were among five who filed to run to fill the vacancy that will be left upon the retirement of District Court Judge David Leech.

Nancy Ray, a Pitt County magistrate, received 5,535 votes, or about 16.5 percent, and Assistant District Attorney Jay Saunders took in 4,426 votes, or 13.2 percent. Earl Brown, a private practice attorney, was killed in a car wreck on Feb. 20. His name still appeared on the ballot Tuesday, and he received 2,378 votes, or about 7.1 percent.

Entzminger said he wants to remind voters he will work hard for them if he is elected.

“I’ll work hard to treat people fairly, enforce the laws fairly and try to keep our community safe,” he said. ”That’s why I’m running.”

Entzminger said he expects to take a week off, reassess for November and get back to work.

“I had a lot of family members and friends who have worked tirelessly for the result we had tonight,” he said. ”I’m very grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Hazelton also had words of thanks for her campaign committee, church and family, especially her husband. 

“I am very excited about the results,” she said. ”I’m looking forward to running in November with Mr. Entzminger.”

All candidates ran excellent campaigns, Hazelton said, and no negativity crept into the race.

“It was a pleasure being in a category with them all,” she said. 

Hazelton said she is running for judge because she wants to make a difference in the community.

“I have a vision to bring progression and change to Pitt County, and I want to do that through the judicial branch,” she said. Hazelton said she’s concerned about things happening in the court system, and she wants to look at reducing the number of repeat offenders, as well as support community policing and tailor probationary sentences.

Ray said she wishes Entzminger and Hazelton the best.

“I enjoyed the time I spent with them and Mr. Saunders on the campaign trail,” Ray said. ”I look forward to voting in November.”

Ray thanked family and friends for support.

Saunders offered congratulations to Entzminger and Hazelton.

“I have had the opportunity to observe and interact with both since they started their careers and have enjoyed the chance to get to know their family and friends during this campaign,” Saunders said. ”I look forward to continuing to help the people of Pitt County as assistant district attorney and wish them both the best in the future.”


Contact Kristin Zachary at kzachary@reflector.com and 252-329-9571 and follow her on Twitter @kristinzachary.