NCSBE: “Bladen Board of Elections…need to get their affairs in order”

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Bladen County Board of Elections. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The NC State Board of Elections had harsh words about the competency of the Bladen County Board of Elections before dismissing two complaints filed against two Bladen County board members.

A reporter with BladenOnline filed complaints with the state, asking for the removal of  Patricia Sheppard and Chairwoman Louella Thompson for incompetency.

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The complaints against Sheppard alleges she made ‘derogatory, libelous remarks,’ alleged the ‘Pledge of Allegiance was for white supremacists’ and made disrespectful remarks to a US Veteran during a public meeting.

The complaint against Thompson concerned the January Board of Elections meeting where she allegedly threatened to call law enforcement because a citizen led the Pledge of Allegiance during the open floor part of the meeting. Thompson’s threats ‘were tactics of intimidation due to her bias opinion,’ according to the complaint.

The complaints allege the woman broke the rules of closed session when they allowed discussion of the pledge and allowed ‘derogatory, libelous comments to be made.’

While discussing these complaints, the State Board of Elections expressed some concern over the competency of the board and the way they handle closed sessions.

“We need to take a deeper look, these names have been before us in the past, several times, a straight dismissal will embolden them to continue the way they’ve been doing,” said board member Ken Raymond.

The board made a motion to dismiss the complaints against Sheppard and Thompson and moved to direct the state board staff to meet with all five Bladen County Board of Education members and provide further instruction on requirements and proper conduct for closed session.

The motion passed 3-2.

“There is not enough here to warrant a removal,” said Chairman Damon Circosta. “I’d also agree with, I think everybody on this board, that we are a long way from making sure we’ve got a fully functioning, very capable Bladen County Board of Elections and they need to get their affairs in order right quick because we are in the middle of early voting.”