WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — Election Day is less than two months away. Between now and then, we’re going to get to know some of the candidates running in several of the big races in our area.
For the first time in 20 years, Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus Counties will soon have a new District Attorney. Incumbent Rex Gore lost his bid for reelection. Tonight, we introduce you to the man who knocked him out of the race: Democratic candidate and Whiteville attorney Butch Pope.
His name is Harold Pope, but everyone calls him Butch. He’s been practicing law in Whiteville since 1983, but he didn’t start his career as a lawyer. After part time jobs at the Starlight Drive-In and Kramer’s Men’s Store in Whiteville, Pope went on to graduate from Appalachian State University in 1970. From there, he went right to work as a science teacher at a junior high school in Charlotte.
Two years later, he tried his hat as a pharmaceutical rep, before spending seven years working for Dupont. It wasn’t until 1980, at the age of 33, that Pope decided to go to law school.
“I like the courtroom,” Pope said. “I like getting in front of that jury and selling my case.”
After getting his law degree from NC Central University, Pope hung out his shingle near the courthouse in Whiteville. The Columbus County native is married with two grown daughters and two granddaughters. Pope says his family helped talk him in to running for district attorney, as did many people in the community.
“The interest when I announced really shocked me, because a lot of people don’t really have an interest in the DA’s office unless they’ve been a victim or a defendant,” Pope said.
Pope says he wants the DA’s office to have more structure, more direction, and better communication with the public and law enforcement.
“Everybody’s got a cell phone, and I don’t see any reason why our office, the DA’s office, can’t communicate with the officer,” Pope said. “I’d also like to have one ADA assigned to a particular police department, sheriff’s department, so they’ve always got a main contact.”
Pope says his science background helps him understand forensic evidence, and his background in criminal defense law will give him an edge as a prosecutor, because he knows what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table.
No matter who wins the race come November, the District Attorney’s office will be getting new blood for the first time in decades. Pope says it’s a needed change.
“Well, we can’t just keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them,” Pope. “In a lot of respects, the way we handle cases, it’s just like it was when I started in 1983, and we’ve got to move along with that technology and with the needs, because the needs have changed.”
Pope is running against Republican Jon David. David lives in Brunswick County and works as an assistant prosecutor in New Hanover County. We’ll have much more on David in next week on WWAY NewsChannel 3.