A Columbus County Sheriff, who recently resigned after he was recorded making comments that were deemed racist, has been re-elected to serve another term, The Washington Post reported.
As previously reported by HowAfrica, Sheriff Jody Greene made those comments during a phone call with Captain Jason Soles. The conversation, which happened several years ago, also took place when Soles was serving as the county’s acting sheriff. Soles was appointed to that position as election officials worked to confirm the contested 2018 elections that Greene won.
However, it seems as though Greene’s reelection was unaffected by the claims or his resignation from his position two weeks ago. Tuesday’s State Board of Elections preliminary results showed that Republican candidate Greene had edged out his rival by more than 1,500 votes.
“I am so honored for your vote of confidence in me and the staff at the Sheriff’s Office. I promise we will not let you down, I am the Sheriff for everyone no matter race, color, religion, sex orientation, or national origin,” Greene shared on Facebook on Wednesday.
After his remarks were denounced by advocacy groups and the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, Greene was re-elected. Following the release of the recording, Greene also tendered his resignation from the state’s Sheriff’s Association.
“The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (the Association), representing all 100 sheriffs in our state, is aware of racially-charged comments allegedly made by Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene, that shock the conscience. The comments made on the recording are inflammatory, racially derogatory, insulting, and offensive,” the NCSA said in a statement in the wake of the allegations.
Before a hearing to consider his removal as sheriff in late October, Greene submitted his resignation. According to reports, Greene said those things when he was referring to the African-American employees in his department. And according to reports, the decision was made after Greene narrowly won the sheriff’s position. Lewis Hatcher, who at the time was Greene’s rival, was Columbus County’s first black sheriff.
Following the election, according to WITN, Hatcher filed a lawsuit asking to be reinstated as sheriff until disagreements about the results were resolved. Soles, who at the time held the position of acting sheriff for the county, claimed he started recording his phone discussions with Greene after the latter started using racial slurs.
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there,” Greene said in the six and half-minute recording that was obtained by WECT in September.
Following his announcement that he would challenge Greene for the sheriff’s position in the November 2022 elections, Soles, a Democrat, provided the recording to the news organization, according to The Washington Post. Soles added that he had initially made an effort to get the regional and state agencies to look into the situation. However, he claimed that “everyone had deaf ears.”
After the circulation of the recordings, District Attorney Jon David asked Greene – in a letter – to “recognize the harm that your statements have caused” and also “make the honorable decision to resign.” But Greene declined to step down, and this ultimately led David to file a petition asking for the Sheriff’s termination, per The Washington Post.
David, at a trial, had also been set to table his case pertaining to the allegations about Greene’s “willful misconduct and maladministration in office.” But the trial shortly ended after Greene’s attorney announced that the sheriff had tendered his resignation.
Greene uploaded a Facebook post declaring he was still running in the 2018 sheriff’s elections hours after making his resignation public. Aside from expressing regret, he added that he decided against going to trial because “I cannot afford to spend the next week fighting in a courtroom while we are in the middle of an election to preserve our freedom.”
In a statement following his announcement, David stated that if Greene wins the election, he would still be removed as sheriff by another petition.
“It is appropriate, and necessary, to file a petition based on the current allegations, as well as any new allegations that may come to light,” David said.
Despite his re-election, Greene is still under investigation for obstruction of justice. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into those allegations.