Pender County Commissioner resigns amid claims of racist issues on the board
PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Pender County Commissioner Jimmy Tate announced Thursday that he is resigning from the board effective immediately. Tate, a black republican who is presumed to be gay, has been told that a fellow commissioner made comments about his race.
“If my differences bother people that bad, I am going to return the seat to the people, and maybe now they can get someone that they can better relate with than me. This is a painful decision,” Tate said. “They’re making it unmanageable for me, in my opinion, to effectively do my job as a commissioner, because their hate towards me is so great. I’d rather move out of the way and get someone who they can better identify with if they’re not ready to see me and my differences. I’ve never thought that I would experience what I’m experiencing today in our political climate in Pender County.”
George Brown, a former chair of the Pender County board of commissioners told WECT Thursday that Tate has been the victim of vicious and radical behavior.
Brown previously served on the Pender County Board of Commissioners with Tate and says they have been close friends for many years. Brown says he believes there are Pender County commissioners with concerns over the fact Tate is black and assumed by others to be gay.
“I do believe there are commissioners on the board that are holding things against Mr. Tate and those are some of the things I think they hold against him, yes,” Brown said. “It’s bigotry and bias and just hatred. And that is what he’s had to deal with and I’m sorry for that.”
Tate’s residency has also been called into question.
During a commissioners’ meeting on Jan. 17, a woman who identified herself as Beth Butler called Tate’s residency into question.
“I’ve got a lawsuit facing our county right here as a direct result of one of our commissioners, Mr. Tate. He’s specifically named in this lawsuit for violating North Carolina law. I am asking for Mr. Tate’s resignation so we can possibly mitigate this lawsuit for taxpayers. Taxpayers should not be responsible for a lawsuit from a commissioner, and this lawsuit directly names Mr. Tate. I’m also a concerned citizen and other concerned citizens in the county question Mr. Tate’s residency as we have been doing for the past year,” Butler said in the meeting.
Tate noted the extreme hate by members of his primary opponent’s team which has caused Tate to divert his attention away from county business.
Tate maintains he is a Surf City resident but also owns another home in Duplin County.
“I’m a resident, I stay in Surf City. I moved to Surf City right after my house in River Landing flooded. No, I’m not leaving my house. I think the day and time is here that a person can own more than one house if they want to. I have a small little place at the beach, very, very small,” Tate said.
Brown also said that Tate lives in Surf City.
“He is a resident of Pender County; he lives in Surf City. And I’m not sure where they’re getting the claim from, but it’s a simple matter of checking with the elections officials to verify that information. I don’t know why they’re persistent on this because I know how this is going to turn out. He is a resident of Pender County, as I said in Surf City and has been living there and not sure why they continue to question that.”
Tate said his resignation is effective immediately.
“Shame on those folks. Because they would find out if they would give Mr. Tate a chance to work with him, they’ll find out they won’t find a better human being to work with. And that’s just bigotry and bias and, and just hatred and that is what he’s having to deal with and I’m sorry for that,” Brown said. “I’m very disappointed in this current board. I had hoped when I left the board and in the new members came, and one of the existing members took over as chairman, I had really hoped that these things would no longer be an issue and they could all get along and work together and work for the good of the county and put their personal biases aside. But I’m very disappointed that that is not what I’m seeing now.”
The Pender County Board of Commissioners released the following statement on Monday, Jan. 30:
“In response to the unexpected events of last week, the Pender County Board of Commissioners wishes Dr. Jimmy Tate all success in his future endeavors. As elected officials, we vow to continue to represent all citizens fairly and equitably as we continue to seek positive solutions for important issues which impact the welfare of our citizens.”
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