After a judge suspended Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene in October for racist comments, he resigned and ran for re-election (and won) in what some are calling an effort to “game the system.”
UPDATE: Jody Greene resigned on Wednesday, Jam. 4 through his attorney Michael Mills, according to The News & Observer, just before a court hearing to remove him from office was set to begin.
The North Carolina Board of Elections has denied a voter’s request to remove Jody Greene from his newly-reelected seat as sheriff of Columbus County after he was suspended for making racist remarks while in office.
Herman Lewis, who filed the long-shot appeal seeking to oust Greene from office, is the vice president of the Columbus County NAACP. He first filed a protest with the local Board of Elections, and when it was denied during a closed session and without a hearing, he appealed to the State Board of Elections. Lewis has since said that he will not appeal the latest decision.
A judge suspended Greene in early October after racist comments he made while on the job were recorded and made public. After that, Greene voluntarily resigned, in what the Southern Coalition for Social Justice called an effort to “game the system” and avoid a judicial decision so that he could run for office again. He was reelected as sheriff in November.
In its dismissal, the State Board of Elections said that they have “no authority to disqualify a candidate for office” in the manner proposed by Lewis and that Greene’s suspension from prior office “does not disqualify him as a candidate for sheriff’s office in the 2022 election because there has not yet been a full hearing and final adjudication of the charges of corruption or malpractice in office.”
“While Mr. Greene may have faced a strong possibility of removal based on the judge’s preliminary ruling, no final judicial determination has been entered on the issues presented in the removal petition by the only person authorized to do so—a superior court judge,” the dismissal goes on. “Mr. Greene’s resignation followed by the voluntary dismissal of the proceedings ended the matter, and this chain of events does not mean the preliminary suspension order transformed into a final adjudication of Mr. Greene’s guilt.”
Lewis criticized the dismissal of his complaint and urged local officials to remove Greene from office.
“I’m disappointed that we have asked for help as Columbus County residents, and those requests have fallen on deaf ears,” Lewis said. “We still believe Jody Greene is unfit for office, and it is our hope that the Columbus County District Attorney moves for his removal as soon as possible.”
Curtis Hill, the president of the Columbus County NAACP, spoke out as well.
“We are disheartened by this decision, I’m not going to lie,” Hill said. “But we will not give up in Columbus County until we have a sheriff who does not actively harm our Black communities. We will continue to support Mr. Lewis and everyone else here as we continue in our efforts to have Jody Greene removed from office.”