- Associated Press - Friday, April 5, 2019

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - The Republican candidate in the still-unresolved November race for sheriff in a North Carolina county was ineligible because he didn’t live in the county as required by law, the county’s election board says.

News outlets report the Columbus County board voted 3-2 on Thursday that Jody Greene wasn’t a county resident one year before the election or on Election Day. State law says a sheriff’s candidate is ineligible if the person “has not resided in the county in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election.” Such residency hearings often focus on whether a person’s domicile comports with that definition.

The State Board of Elections will meet next to review the decision. The county board ruled at the close of a two-day hearing in which members visited Greene’s recreational vehicle located on property in Cerro Gordo, within the county.

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Greene was sworn in after a recount showed him 37 votes ahead of Democratic incumbent Lewis Hatcher. The state board wouldn’t authorize the election outcome because appeals had not been exhausted when he took the oath of office. Neither candidate runs day-to-day sheriff’s department operations while awaiting a final result.

The county board’s three Democratic members who voted for Greene being ineligible focused on the RV, pointing out it was still registered in South Carolina. They also cited issues they had with the changing electricity bill amounts for the RV and the RV’s sewage disposal. Greene testified that the RV isn’t connected to a septic system or sewer and he travels to a campground once a month to dispose of waste.

The two Republican board members voted no on the ineligibility question.

Greene testified that he considered the Cerro Gordo property to be his domicile since purchasing it in 2012. He said damage to his wife’s business during Hurricane Matthew and other matters had delayed home construction there.

The county board voted unanimously to dismiss an initial election protest by a Democratic voter alleging election irregularities.

The state board is also made up of five members - three registered Democrats and two Republicans.

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