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Letts, Melrose vie for Superior judge post

Southern Jackson County voters will help decide who wields Superior Court gavel

By Dan Brown / Staff

SOUTHERN JACKSON COUNTY -- The filing deadline for the North Carolina 30B Judicial District Court has passed and two candidates will square off for the gavel come November. The district includes all of southern Jackson County, as well as the rest of Jackson and Haywood counties.

Incumbent Bradley Letts and Waynesville attorney Mark Melrose, both Democrats, will lock horns in the general election on Nov. 6.

There is no primary in the multi-county race. N.C. Judicial District Court 30B is one of 50 district courts in the state. District Court 30A covers Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties.

Filing began on June 18 and ended June 29.

Letts filed on the first day of the filing period, while Melrose filed on June 21.

This is the first time Judge Letts has faced opposition as he ran unopposed in 2009. Superior Court judges serve eight-year terms.  

Born in Colorado, Letts, 51, has called the western North Carolina area home since he was a child. A graduate of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and economics, Letts earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi.

Melrose, 55, came from south Florida and moved to the area as a teenager. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Carolina University in 1985, and his law degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1989.  

This is the first judgeship election with party affiliations, with judges being required now to declare party affiliation in order to run for election.

The senate overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of House Bill 100 by a vote of 32-15, according to the ncleg.net website. The House had voted 77-44 to override the veto.

This now requires previously unaffiliated political candidates, specifically judges, to declare a party affiliation.


Bradley Letts

Bradley B. Letts began his career in the private practice before joining the Waynesville District Attorney’s Office in 1995 as an assistant district attorney.

From 1997 to 1999, Letts, who is of Native American descent, served as attorney general of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in Cherokee as a district court judge.

Letts served from 2000-2009 as a District Court Judge for the 30B Judicial District. In 2010 Letts was elected Senior Resident Superior Court Judge the 30B Judicial District of the Eighth Division of the Superior Court.


Mark Melrose

After graduating with a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1989, Mark Melrose was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 1990, and has worked as a defense attorney, operating his own law practice in Waynesville for 27 years.

This is Melrose’s first run for political office.


Other contested judicial races

Southern Jackson County voters will also help decide other judicial races in the Nov. 6 election.

According to Jackson County Board of Elections info, these contested judicial races include:

• N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Seat 1 (Jackson seat) -- Anita Earls, Democrat; Barbara Jackson, Republican; and Christopher Anglin, Republican.

• N.C. Court of Appeals Seat 1 (Arrowood seat) -- John Arrowood, Democrat; and Andrew Heath, Republican.

• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 2 (Calabria seat) -- Jefferson Griffin, Republican; Tobias Hampson, Democrat; and Sandra Alice Ray, Republican.

• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Seat 3 (Elmore seat) -- Allegra Collins, Democrat; Chuck Kitchen, Republican; and Michael Monaco Sr., Liberterian.

• N.C. District Court Judge District 30 Seat 2 (Earwood seat) -- Kristina Earwood, Republican; and Leo Phillips, Republican.

(Crossroads Chronicle Editor Don Richeson contributed to this story.)

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