FIRST ON WITN: Former New Bern Mayor Bows Out Of District Attorney's Race

New Bern's former mayor says he is staying out of politics, for now.

Lee Bettis tells WITN News he will not run as an unaffiliated candidate for district attorney in the fall.

Bettis, who did not seek another term as mayor last year, tried to run as a Republican for D.A. on the final day day of filing in Raleigh back on February 28th. But, state election workers said Bettis was registered as unaffiliated and needed 5200 signatures of voters by June 12th to run against D.A. Scott Thomas, who is a Democrat.

"I went up there thinking, hey I'm a Republican, I've always been a Republican. Senator Burr is the one who swore me in as a Republican! I go up there, and somehow I'm unaffiliated now? And go get 5,200 some votes? Okay, that is shocking. This is not what I expected," said Bettis. "I'm not going to spend my time to get those votes, put my family through that and then go through an election on top of that. It's not where we are right now and my time is better used doing other stuff."

The attorney doesn't rule out a return to politics, though. He said it is possible he may run for district attorney in four years.

With Bettis out of the race, District Attorney Scott Thomas faces no opposition in November.

Bettis is still awaiting his day in court on charges of DWI, reckless driving to endanger and child abuse after his arrest last summer in Havelock.

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