Scott files for district attorney

Staff report
Catherine Gaines -
Catherine Gaines -
Danny Britt -
Lance Herndon - -
Linda Emanuel - -

LUMBERTON — Matt Scott, an assistant district attorney, filed Tuesday to replace his boss, Johnson Britt, who has announced he would not seek re-election as district attorney.

He was one of three candidates to file on the second day of the 15-day period for county office.

Scott, a Democrat, is a native of Robeson County, former paratrooper, former special assistant United States attorney, combat veteran and U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps attorney.

He is a graduate of North Carolina State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Law. Upon graduation from law school in 2002, Matt joined the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant with the 18th Airborne Corp, where he served as a JAG attorney. In 2004, Matt was deployed for one year to Balad, Iraq, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service as a combat soldier.

Scott returned to Ft. Bragg and was assigned as the lead prosecutor in the case of United States v. Hennis, a triple murder that occurred in Fayetteville and received national recognition.

In 2010, Scott joined the U.S. Army Reserves and began serving in the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office, prosecuting major felonies. Scott was appointed and served as a special assistant United States attorney assigned to the Organized Crime and Drug Task Force within the United States Attorney General’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. In that capacity, he assisted the Attorney General’s Office with federal prosecutions of drug traffickers in Robeson County.

Scott has continued his service with the U.S. Army Reserves, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel, and recently completed an adjunct professorship with the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School located at the University of Virginia, where he taught criminal law advocacy and courses dealing with high profile litigation. In November, Scott was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission.

Scott lives in Pembroke, with his wife, Jessica, and their two sons, Gabriel, 12, and Ethan, 9. Scott is a deacon and TeamKid teacher at Berea Baptist Church, a youth basketball and soccer coach, a member of the Tri-Warriors Triathlon Club, and is an Ironman finisher.

“In order to make Robeson County safer, we must tackle the drug distribution and abuse in our county,” Scott wrote in a statement. “We can accomplish this by implementing drug diversion programs that have a proven track record of success and aggressively prosecuting drug traffickers. This approach will bring down crime and provide opportunity for economic development. My diverse military and prosecutorial experience provides me with the qualities to lead the District Attorney’s Office into a bright future.”

Also Tuesday, Catherine L. Gaines, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, became the second challenger for the District 8 seat on the Robeson County Board of Education that is now held by Dwayne Smith. Richard Monroe filed Monday as a candidate for the same seat.

Gaines, 50, is the team lead for Patient Navigation for Southeastern Health in Lumberton. The Fayetteville native attends Trinity Episcopal Church in Lumberton, where she serves on the Vestry.

She began her career in medicine as a combat medic in the U.S. Army. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she was accepted in the Emory University PA program in 1991. Upon graduation she went into the Air Force and later transferred to the Air National Guard. She went on to graduate from the Montefiore PA Surgical residency in 2005.

Gaines has served on the board for the American Association of Surgical Physician Assistants for the past 12 years. She accepted a position with Duke Medicine in Southeastern Health’s Heart Center in 2005. She worked in cardiovascular surgery before being called to start the Patient Navigation department as part of Southeastern Health.

Gaines authored a grant in 2016 to bring free mammograms and pap smears to the uninsured in Robeson County.

“I believe that we need to take proactive steps in order to lead our school system in a positive direction,” Gaines wrote in a statement. “Our community should focus on the immediate needs of our children, improve the physical condition of our schools and seek financial opportunities through state and federal funding to support our teachers. Our school board must be transparent in their motives, responsive to student and educator needs and improve communication between parents and the community at large.”

Linda O. Emanuel, of Lumberton, filed Tuesday for the District 3 seat on the Robeson County Board of Education.

Emanuel served for more than 40 years in the public school system as a classroom teacher and in many central office advisement and leadership areas, according to information she gave to The Robesonian. Her experiences include working with developing needs assessments in school building planning, systemwide strategic/budgeting planning, research and development in the areas of curriculum and development, and writing board policies.

Emanuel said that she wants to set reasonable school improvement goals, including reading to learn and transferring those reading skills across other curricula, and updating technology in the classrooms.

“If elected to the board I will strongly advocate that we make safe schools the number one priority. We must revisit our resources to ensure that our students and staff can learn and work in a safe environment. I also will work toward providing a voice for receiving input relative to improving our school system from parents and other citizens of Robeson County and will do everything possible to better market our school system,” Emanuel wrote in her statement.

Lance Herndon filed Monday for re-election to the District 8 seat on the county Board of Commissioenrs that he has held since 2009. Herndon was delayed in getting information to The Robesonian because of computer problems at the Board of Elections, so The Robesonian decided to publish his information a day later.

Herndon was elected to the board in 2008 in a special election, and took the seat held by his grandfather for many years. He won re-election in 2010 and 2014.

Herndon, 43, is a lifelong resident of Parkton. He owns and operates Lance Herndon Farms. He and his wife, Melissa, have two children, 5-year-old Emma Jameson and 3-year-old Granger.

He is a member of Lumber Bridge Presbyterian Church, where he serves on the Session as an elder. He is a 1993 graduate of St. Pauls High School and a 1997 graduate of the University of North Carolina.

In 2004, Herndon received the Robeson County Young Farmer of the Year Award.

Herndon is the vice chairman of the county Department of Social Services board of directors. He serves on the Robeson County Housing Authority board of directors, the NC Soybean Producers Association board of directors, and the Robeson County Cooperative Extension Advisory Council. Herndon is a member of the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and is a former legislative committee member for the National Sorghum Producers, representing North Carolina.

“As a commissioner, it is my responsibility to work towards a more effective and efficient county government,” Herndon said in a written statement. “I am committed to keeping taxes as low as possible while maintaining efforts on new initiatives that will improve current county services and foster economic development.”

State Sen. Danny Britt Jr. filed Tuesday for re-election to the District 13 seat, which covers Columbus and Robeson counties. The Republican is seeking his second two-year term.

In his information to The Robesonian, Britt describes himself as a son of a textile worker and a state employee. Britt was born in Robeson County and has lived his entire life in Southeast North Carolina, except for the time spent in college, law school and on military deployments.

Britt enlisted in the Army National Guard as a private, put himself through college on the GI Bill, and has served more than 21 years as an officer. He is a former assistant district attorney and adjutant instructor at Bladen Community College. Britt is an attorney and a small-business owner.

He is a member of St Albans Masonic lodge, Robeson County Shrine Club and is a member and past deacon of First Presbyterian Church in Lumberton. Britt is past chairman of the Lumberton Community Relations Committee, past board member of the Exploration Board, past member of former U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre’s Military and Veterans Advisory Committee, and past member of the state Rules Review Comission. He lettered in football at Appalachian State University.

Britt’s wife is a career educator and works as a curriculum and testing coordinator. They have an 8-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.

“If elected I will continue to represent the interests of all citizens of my district regardless of political party,” Britt wrote in a statement. “I will continue to fight zealously in the General Assembly as I do in the courtroom. I will continue to fight for the interests of rural North Carolina against both Republicans and Democrats when their interests are contrary to our district. During my time as the senator representing this district I can truly say I have delivered and will continue to so long as the citizens and the good Lord wills.”

Dan McCready, a Democrat from Charlotte, filed Tuesday as a candidate for the District 9 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte, holds the seat.

Catherine Gaines Gaines

Catherine Gaines Gaines

Danny Britt Britt

Lance Herndon Herndon

Linda Emanuel Emanuel

Staff report