State hearing on sheriff’s election set for Monday

Lewis Hatcher

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     A hearing on the disputed Columbus County sheriff ’s election before the State Board of Elections (SBOE) is set for Monday afternoon.

     That hearing will be held at 1 p.m. in the agency’s board room in the Dobbs Building in Raleigh, board spokesman Patrick Gannon said in a news release Thursday morning.

     Seating will be limited, and “members of the public are encouraged to monitor proceedings remotely,” Gannon said.

     Audio will be available at 213-929-4232 with the code 835-569-437; or on Facebook live here.

Jody Greene

Issues

     Several issues may be considered by the board, including if the presumed winner in last November’s sheriff’s election, Jody Greene, is a resident of Columbus County.

     In a 3-2 decision along party lines Democrats on the Columbus County Board of Elections early last month said that Greene was not a resident of the county and ineligible to serve as sheriff.

     That decision was not the final word, with that matter and appeals on protests heard last month and last November to be considered by the state board when it meets.

     Other issues involve absentee ballots, and could hinge on the involvement of consultant McRae Dowler of Bladen County in the Greene campaign.

     McCrae’s involvement in the 9th District congressional race, which includes Bladen County, raised questions about diverted absentee ballots that resulted in a new election being ordered there. McRae and others have been charged criminally in that case.

     Greene, a Republican, won the election last November by 37 votes over Democrat incumbent Lewis Hatcher, but that election was not certified after protests denied by the local Board of Elections were appealed to the SBOE, after Greene took his oath of office on Dec. 3, 2018.

     Greene is officially sitting out as the county’s top law enforcement officer under a sealed agreement reached in a lawsuit filed by Hatcher against Greene.

     Attorneys’ for both sides have said that Capt. Jason Soles, who leads the sheriff’s detective division, has assumed day-to-day operational command of the sheriff’s office.

     Look for updates here as events warrant, and coverage of Monday’s hearing in next week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.