County Attorney Davida Martin to retire

County Attorney Davida Martin to retire
May 03
03:00 2018

After 30 years of legal service to the county, Forsyth County Attorney Davida Martin will be retiring at the end of June.

During the county commissioner’s April 26 meeting, they appointed Assistant County Attorney Gordon Watkins III to become the next county attorney effective July 1. Watkins has been an assistant county attorney since 2000. He’s a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, has a masters degree from MIT in economics and completed his undergraduate work at Davidson College in economics.

Watkins said he was honored by the promotion and thanked Martin for her service.

“Davida’s been a wonderful county attorney and a great mentor for me personally,” said Watkins.

County Commissioner Chairman Dave Plyler also thanked Martin.

“You kept us out of trouble. I don’t remember anyone threatening to sue us because we did the wrong thing,” said Plyler.

Martin began working for the county in 1988 as an assistant county attorney. In 1998, she was promoted to county attorney, becoming the first African-American female county attorney in the state.

Being a lawyer runs in Martin’s family. Her late father, David Wagner Jr., was one of the first African-American law students at Wake Forest Law School. She practiced under him for five years when he was general counsel for the Winston Mutual Insurance Company.

Martin has undergraduate and master’s degrees in math education from N.C. A&T State University and a law degree from Wake Forest Law School. She has served as president of the N.C. Association of County Attorneys and was named Outstanding County Attorney of the Year in 2005.

Martin said her office does a lot of behind-the-scenes work at the county. The resolutions passed at county commissioner meetings are either written by or vetted by her.

“What you see in the meetings is the cleaned up version of a lot of research and examination and behind the scenes work by county staff,” she said. “There’s a lot more effort that goes into them than what you see when you attend the meetings.”

Martin said her office also makes sure the county is complying with the law and correctly advertising required bids and notices. It also deals with hundreds of contracts a year as well as legal claims.

Martin supervises 15 employees: eight attorneys, five paralegals and two staff members. She counts the legal team she’s assembled for the county as her greatest accomplishment. She said leaving them will be bittersweet.

“I feel like I’ve done a good job selecting a strong legal team to work for me,” she said

“The team has worked hard and we crank through a lot of work every year.”

Martin said it’s been an honor to serve in her position, but is looking forward to retirement and being with her family. She said she’s seen many other women who’ve become county attorneys over the years. She said with preparation, hard work and focus, women can thrive in the law profession.

Martin is the wife of Harold Martin, who is the chancellor of N.C. A&T State University and a former Winston-Salem State University chancellor. They have two adult sons – Harold Jr. and Walter – and three grandchildren, who Martin said she looks forward to spending time with.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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