Assistant District Attorney Michael Miller has announced he will file to run for Cleveland and Lincoln County’s district attorney. Miller is well acquainted in law practice, beginning his career in Lincolnton in 1997. Having experience not only working in the district attorney’s office but in law enforcement and private practice, he believes he has the best insight to succeed in the position.
“I believe I have the experience and integrity to provide citizens with the services they need,” Miller said.
For Miller, running for district attorney has been a dream long in the making. He said he has always wanted to work as a prosecutor and a lawyer.
“No one from a political party had to come to me and try to talk me into running for district attorney,” Miller said. “This has always been my personal goal, and I have spent most of my entire professional career trying to prepare myself for this opportunity to serve my community.”
For the past eight years, the district attorney position for Cleveland and Lincoln Counties has been held by Rick Shaffer. Prior to that, Shaffer served as an assistant district attorney for almost 20 years. While he has enjoyed his time as the county’s district attorney, he has felt the need to return to a former calling.
“I truly enjoy the actual trial work,” Shaffer said. “My goal is to return to an assistant district attorney position to get back into trial work.”
With more than two decades serving in a court of law, Shaffer feels there are several traits vital to a successful district attorney.
“An effective district attorney has to have a great deal of experience and knowledge in how the criminal system works and the criminal laws they have to enforce,” he said. “That person has to have the ability to manage assistant district attorneys and staff people as well as manage a system. Our system, while not perfect, is very efficient.”
Shaffer believes that Miller possesses the qualities necessary for a successful district attorney.
“Mr. Miller has been running the Lincoln County office for three years now,” Shaffer said. “He’s had the experience of being a direct supervisor for a number of prosecutors.
“You have to be able to balance the needs and desires of victims and the needs and requirements of bringing justice. The district attorney has to be able to make that balance, and Mr. Miller has that ability given the nature of his current job and his experience level.”
While Miller said he proudly runs as a Republican candidate, he feels his political affiliation should not impact his ability to perform this role.
“The district attorney does not introduce or pass legislation,” Miller said. “He does not have the authority to impact social policy, other than enforcing the existing laws that are passed by the North Carolina legislature. In that regard, the citizens of our district, whether Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, black or white, all share the common desire for safe neighborhoods in which to raise our children and families.”
“I would think voters would be more concerned about the applicant’s abilities and previous positions than his or her political party,” Shaffer said. “When people vote straight party politics, they may vote in someone who has no experience. So, voting straight party really isn’t the best idea.”
According to the Bradley Putnam, Director of Lincoln County’s Board of Elections, filing begins Feb. 10 at noon and will end Feb. 28 at noon.