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  • Jefferson Weaver

Court Rules Against Norton

Sheriff Elect Jody Greene is expected to be sworn into office next week.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Graham Shirley rejected Calvin Norton’s appeal of a state Board of Elections decision on Friday. Since Shirley did not enter a stay against the November election, Greene is now free to receive a certificate of election from the county board.

Greene defeated Democrat challenger Jason Soles 10,034 to 8,458 in November.

Patrick Gannon, an attorney with the state Board of Elections, said that since Shirley “essentially agreed that Greene had not been disqualified to stand for election,” the results would stand.

Calvin Norton and Herman Lewis filed complaints against Greene shortly after the November election. Both claimed Greene was ineligible to hold office due to an ongoing investigation into the sheriff’s office.

Lewis dropped his complaint after the state board ruled against him. By law, Lewis has until Dec. 28 to file an appeal to the courts. If a stay has not been filed by the end of business on Dec. 28, the county board can issue the certificate the next day.

Norton carried his to the courts, where Shirley ruled that the state and county boards had ruled properly.

The investigation was sparked after Soles released an audio recording of Greene making racist statements in 2019, when Soles was employed with the sheriff’s office while the courts determined whether Greene was a resident of Columbus.

The recording was released to a media outlet after Soles claimed the district attorney, county officials and other law enforcement agencies refused to take any action. The district attorney’s office and county officials who responded to a request for comment said they never heard the recording before it was broadcast.

Greene resigned in October during a hearing for his removal by District Attorney Jon David, who said in the courtroom he would file a new petition of Greene was elected in November. Both Lewis and Norton claimed that since Greene resigned and the charges were dismissed, the original petition for removal was never adjudicated.

The Columbus County Board of Elections voted 2-1 against both complaints. Dave McPherson and Mack Ward voted against the complaints, with Brenda Ebron voting for the complaints. Kay Horne and Bonita Blakney abstained.

In his appeal to the state board of elections, Lewis said that the local board improperly discussed his case when they went into closed session with an attorney to discuss the appeals process.

The state board of elections rejected both appeals, citing a lack of jurisdiction over the removal petition and a lack of evidence that any of the evidence cited in the appeals affected the November elections.

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