Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties Prepare for Runoff Election - myfoxcarolinas.com

Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties Prepare for Runoff Election

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    I am a Digital Journalist based in Hickory. I cover Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell and Watauga counties. I was born in Weaverville, NC. My high school dream was to be a White House correspondent, then college happened and I got involved with the radio station at Western Carolina University.
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Hickory, NC - The race for District Attorney in the 25th District, which is made up of Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, will all but be decided tomorrow. The race is down to a runoff between two Republicans, incumbent James “Jay” Gaither, who has held the office for a little more than a decade, and David Learner, a former Assistant District Attorney.

Since the race began, there have been words thrown from all sides. Initially, it seemed, the media fixated on the race between Gaither and Scott Reilly, a local defense attorney who lost in the May primary. Both men had roles in the Zahara Baker murder case that captivated the country in 2010 and 2011. Gaither's office led the prosecution, and Reilly was appointed defense attorney for Elisa Baker, who would eventually be found guilty of second degree murder in the death of the 10-year-old.

Following the May Republican primary, Reilly was eliminated while Gaither received 31.09% of the vote. Learner had 39.39%. Since neither candidate rose to the 40 percent requirement, a runoff was scheduled.

Since the end of the primary, Gaither has filed two complaints against Learner with North Carolina Board of Elections (NCBOE). He has also accused Learner of being involved in a “pyramid scheme,” known as Fortune High-Tech Marketing, which the Federal Trade Commission accused of “deceiving consumers.”

“I joined Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing in the spring of 2009 and I was involved with that company for 8 months," Learner said. "It appeared to be a legitimate company. I looked into it and could not find any complaints with the AG. Could not find anything. They offered things like discounts on cell phones and multivitamins, stuff that we were using anyway. I believe it was legitimate the time I was involved. I have been told that corporate structure and compensation plans changed after I left.”

Following the two complaints to the NCBOE, Gaither was slapped with a lawsuit by former Assistant District Attorney Whitney Nicole Shaffer. Shaffer alleges Gaither made unwanted advances and harassed her while she worked for him.

In response, Gaither said, “While I am human and I make mistakes, I own up to the mistakes I make. This is not one of those occasions. Her claim of sexual harassment is unfounded and false.”

Now the voters, having taken in months of back and forth rhetoric from each campaign, go to the polls to decide who will be in the 25th District’s District Attorney’s Office next year.

No one is running for DA on the Democratic ticket.

David Learner sat down with My Fox Carolinas to talk about the race and how, if he wins, a Learner DA’s office would operate. Mr. Gaither was provided the same opportunity to speak on camera, but has declined citing work on the Maggie Daniels’ investigation.
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