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Barnes drops out of Leland council race; says council does not share his vision

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LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- A Leland Town Councilman has decided not to seek reelection after all.

The Brunswick County Board of Elections says Herbert Barnes dropped out of the race Friday.

Barnes said he had decided some time ago not to run because his vision for the town does not match the vision of the other people likely to serve on the council after the election. He said he held off on officially dropping out of the race because of recent issues that have brought a negative light on the town.

"I just didn't feel as though I can work with the town council and have a good working relationship," Barnes said in a phone interview. "I don't want to go through disagreements. I want the council to work together not against each other."

Last week prosecutors dropped domestic violence charges against Barnes after he completed a deferred prosecution program after an arrest last spring.

Barnes also said he had only learned of the situation harassment claim by former Leland Police officer Sherry Lewis three or four weeks ago. He said no one told him about the claim or the training exercise it stemmed from that happened back in March. Barnes also said he has not been "fully informed" about the subject of a special meeting called Thursday night by fellow council members Brenda Bozeman and Pat Batleman about a "personnel action."

"I have an idea what it is about," Barnes said, "but I can't say for sure."

Despite dropping out of the race, Barnes's name will still be on the ballot, because absentee ballots have already been prepared. County Elections Director Greg Bellamy says under state law, any votes for Barnes will not be counted.

The Board of Elections also says Bald Head Island candidate Ken Miller died over the weekend. His name will also stay on the ballot.

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