A North Carolina man is projected to win reelection as sheriff two weeks after he resigned from the same job for making derogatory statements about Black deputies.
Republican Jody Greene defeated Democratic candidate Jason Soles in Columbus County despite stepping down from the sheriff’s office in October, following the release of a leaked audio recording from 2019.
Greene defeated Soles by 1,576 votes, or 54% of the total ballot count, according to unofficial voting results from Columbus County.
In the 2019 phone call, Greene referred to multiple Black employees as “bastards” and indicated that he planned to fire them for supposedly undermining him, according to a petition filed by the local district attorney’s office last month.
“Every Black that I know, you need to fire him to start with, he’s a snake!” Greene was quoted as saying in the petition.
The recording sparked outrage from local NAACP officials, who called Greene’s comments “divisive” and “horrifying.”
Greene’s comments sparked an investigation into the sheriff’s office for misconduct and obstruction of justice.
The district attorney’s office demanded that Greene be removed from his role following reports of the 2019 remarks. District Attorney Jon David wrote that a new petition would be filed to force Greene out of office if he were to win reelection in November.
In an amended petition filed last month, David said several individuals approached his office regarding the filing of the initial petition about concerns with Greene and his agents engaging in “intimidation” and “abusing” his authority, according to documents.
David cited a sexual relationship between Greene and one of his deputies, which lasted for months and “interfered with the necessary and proper administration” of the sheriff’s office.
The state and local NAACP chapter wrote two letters to the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in Columbus County last month as early voting was starting.
David’s allegations were alarming to the group, which cited instances of Greene pursuing criminal charges against a County commissioner after he voted against providing pay increases and riot gear to the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.
The group is demanding a federal civil rights investigation into the statements made and actions taken by Greene.
Though he had stepped down, Greene was still eligible to appear on the ballot. Just hours after his resignation, he posted on Facebook that he never intended to end his campaign, according to local TV station WECT.
“Due to my love for Columbus County and to spare my fellow citizens along with my family and friends the ordeal and spectacle of a long trial, I resigned as Sheriff of Columbus County for the term elected in November 2018 effective this morning. The allegations ... are not true. They were politically motivated,” Greene wrote last month.
“I’m still running for Sheriff of Columbus County in the November 8, 2022 election. I am running to make Columbus County better and safer for ALL our citizens.”
The chairman of the Columbus County Republican Party told WECT at the time that the local GOP was not calling on Greene to withdraw from the election and that the party planned for him to “win and win big.”
In 2018, Greene successfully ran for the sheriff’s seat against Lewis Hatcher — the Democratic incumbent at the time, and one of the Black men specifically named in the leaked audio recording.
Hatcher filed a court complaint in August seeking reinstatement as sheriff after questioning Greene eligibility for the role.