Election appeal to move forward, delay swearing-in of Columbus County sheriff-elect

Election appeal to move forward, delay swearing-in of Columbus County sheriff-elect
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 2:17 PM EST
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Less than a week after the Columbus County Board of Elections denied the election protests of two residents, at least one appeal has now been filed to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

The county board voted 2-1 with two abstentions Monday to deny the protests filed by Herman Lewis and Calvin Norton asking the board to disqualify Jody Greene from holding office as sheriff.

On Thursday, both Lewis and Norton notified the board that they plan to appeal its decision to the state. The board received Norton’s protest Friday, meaning while the appeal process continues, Greene will not be issued a certificate of election and cannot legally hold the elected office.

The state board’s executive director can deny the appeal if it is found to be unsubstantiated or improperly filed. Board members will then have three days to object to that recommendation before the appeal is denied.

According to North Carolina General Statute, Columbus County would not be able to issue a certificate of election for Greene until the tenth day after the final decision of the State Board of Elections, unless the board orders a new election or the board’s decision is appealed to the Superior Court of Wake County.

Columbus County plans to swear in its elected commissioners on Monday, Dec. 5, in a ceremony at the commissioner’s chambers in Whiteville. Greene would have also been able to take the oath of office on this date had the protests not been filed and appealed, and had a certificate of election been issued by the county board. In those cases, Greene would still have to wait for the process to be complete before being allowed to return to role of sheriff.

District Attorney Jon David says his office plans to file another petition to remove Greene from office should he ultimately be issued a certificate of election and sworn in.

In David’s original petition filed in October, Greene is accused of corruption and maladministration during his first term in office. Greene was heard on a recorded phone call making racist comments about his black employees, and is accused of having a sexual relationship with a detective, arresting citizens without basis, and threatening county commissioners.

Greene resigned from his term as sheriff on Oct. 24 at the beginning of the hearing to remove him from office.

The State Bureau of Investigations is conducting a criminal investigation into Greene and the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office. Interim Sheriff Bill Rogers’ appointment to the office is set to expire on Monday, when Greene’s original term was set to expire.

Rogers suspended Chief Deputy Aaron Herring earlier this month. That suspension is also set to expire on Monday.

As it stands, Greene defeated challenger Jason Soles in the 2022 election, but will not receive the certification he needs to legally return to the office until the appeal process is complete.