Local attorney Hathaway Pendergrass announced on Wednesday his intention to run for a District Court Judge seat in Orange and Chatham counties in 2020.

Pendergrass made the announcement on The Ron Stutts Show on 97.9 The Hill WCHL on Wednesday morning.

“It’s our community, simply put,” Pendergrass said Wednesday when announcing why he would be running.

“I’ve had the privilege of working in district court – focusing solely really on district court litigation – now in my eighth year and getting a lot of experience in all the courtrooms throughout Orange and Chatham counties.

“But combining that with also the community work I’ve been able to engage in and the different corners of the community I’ve been able to work in, people I’ve been able to meet – even since I grew up here – there’s so much more you can always learn, never stop learning in our community. The combination of those two things – experience in the courtroom, experience in the community – led me to today.”

Pendergrass is a native of Carrboro and has been working as an attorney with Epting and Hackney. He graduated from Chapel Hill High School before earning an undergraduate degree from UNC and going to law school at North Carolina Central University.

A website launched in conjunction with the announcement said Pendergrass has built a judicial philosophy focused on three pillars: ensuring equity in the judicial process, connecting with compassion and advocating in the best interests of children and youth.

“People who come before district court judges, they at a minimum are having a bad day. Most of them are having one of the worst, if not the worst day of their life,” Pendergrass said Wednesday. “Connecting as much as I can with every single person that comes before me, I think, is of the highest degree of importance in this job.”

Pendergrass, who is 35 years old, said he feels his experience in the courtroom will alleviate concerns over his age.

“It’s a new job,” he said. “Whether you’ve been doing it for three or 30 years, it’s just a new job; it’s going to be a huge learning curve for anybody. But I think wisdom is really even more key than experience. The idea of knowing what you know and more importantly what you don’t know.”

Pendergrass has served on the board of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, planning boards in Carrboro and Orange County and serves as a teen court judge with Volunteers for Youth diversionary program.

Pendergrass is running for the seat currently held by Judge Jay Bryan, who will be forced to retire due to age in January. Four district court judge seats will be up for election in Orange and Chatham counties in 2020. In addition to the seat held by Bryan, seats currently occupied by Samantha Cabe, Sherri Murrell and Beverly Scarlett will be up for election.