A candidate for the Johnston County Board of Education says she has been black balled by the Johnston County Republican Party. At issue is a photo taken with a Democratic candidate and comments made on social media.
Summer Hamrick is a Republican. She survived a May primary to advance to the Nov. 8th general elections for the school board which is a non-partisan race. Hamrick was in Four Oaks last Saturday for the Acorn Festival with her daughter, Kaitlynd, the 2016 Johnston County Outstanding Miss. Kaitlynd was there promoting her campaign for the Ronald McDonald House.
While at the Acorn Festival, Hamrick says she stopped to take a photo with her daughter and another school board candidate, Crystal Kimpson Roberts, who is a Democrat. Hamrick later shared the photo on her personal Facebook page, which caused the controversy.
Hamrick said she received a phone call on Tuesday from Patrick Harris, the Johnston County GOP Chairman, who informed her she was being removed from the conservative voter guide.
“I think it is ridiculous the GOP would remove my name from the voter guide and not provide me with any support because of the picture on a personal Facebook page of two candidates supporting a local Johnston County public student,” Hamrick said in an interview with WTSB News. “I don’t think it’s right.”
“I cannot stress enough that this is a non-partisan race and the campaign for the board of education race should about the children. It is about the people and not the party.”
GOP Chairman Responds
Johnston County GOP Chairman Patrick Harris confirmed the Johnston County Republican Party Executive Committee met and agreed that Hamrick would not be listed on the Conservative Voter Guide. “As you know, The JCGOP is charged with working to get Republican candidates elected. This voter guide is a tool that has been used for a number of years to assist voters in making their conservative choices of candidates they support.”
“Ms. Hamrick chose to post a photo and caption on her social media for all her friends and supporters encouraging them to cast “2 votes” for her and Crystal Kimpson Roberts. While it is certainly within Ms. Hamrick’s right to vote for or endorse any candidate she chooses, it does however go against what the Republican party is charged with doing – electing Republicans. By posting this, Ms. Hamrick is essentially saying ‘vote for this Democratic candidate instead of one of my fellow Republican candidates’.”
Harris said the post was not well received by many Republicans and felt that Ms. Hamrick did not support the values and mission of the GOP. As a result the Johnston County Republican Party Executive Committee agreed unanimously not to include Ms. Hamrick on the conservative voter guide. saying they didn’t want to send mixed signals to GOP voters and supporters.
Caption “Crucial Part” Of The Post
“I can assure you that this decision was not taken lightly and a great deal of discussion went in to the process,” Chairman Harris said in an email. “But all agreed that for a Republican to encourage other voters to support another party’s candidate was not in keeping with the goals and objectives of the Johnston County GOP… We also recognize that random pictures with candidates from all sides are frequently snapped, but the crucial part of this post was the caption that was attached to it.”
The caption states, “It takes team work to make it work! Here are 2 votes to make for Johnston County Board of Education!”
Harris said the Executive Committee’s response was not meant to be disrespectful to either Hamrick or Roberts.
“I want to clearly state that this in no way is meant to be disrespectful to Ms. Hamrick. This is merely a decision to omit her from the published guide as a result of the decision she made to support an opponent of other Republican candidates. Further, this is in no way meant to be disrespectful to Ms. Kimpson Roberts. She merely represents the values and principles of the Democratic Party that are in stark contrast to those of fellow Republicans.”
Harris said the Executive Committee’s decision was unanimous. The members of the committee including Harris, Denise Rentz, Vice Chair; Michelle Haller, Secretary; Michelle Brinson, Treasurer; Tony Brown, Member at Large; and Darryl Mitchell, Member at Large.
Crystal Roberts who was drawn into the controversy with the photo and caption said partisanship in the race for school board is wrong.
“This action grieves me because I have continually maintained that partisanship has no place in public education. We should be laser-focused on creating opportunities within an environment that promotes academic success for every student. That is neither the responsibility, nor the commitment, of one particular party; it is everyone’s responsibility.”
Tony Braswell, Chairman of the Johnston County Board of County Commissioners, and a Republican said the GOP’s actions are concerning.
“Just when you think you have seen or heard it all, something like this happens. First of all I have not been actively involved in the Johnston County GOP since last January, for obvious reasons. I have known Crystal for many years, and I know her dedication to education and as an advocate for both parents and students. I have known Summer during the last campaign cycle, and also know her to be concerned about the education success for all students in this county,” Braswell said.
“The advancement of education for the students and parents of this county is not a Republican or Democrat issue, and that is clearly why this is an non-partisan election. I also realize that each party may decide, if they choose, to promote candidates of their party.”
“Where I take issue with the decision by the JC GOP leadership is it should be administered fairly to all of their candidates. Elections should be determined by the voters, and not decided by a small group of people, who have never been elected to any office, who have not created the first job, who have not recruited the first industry, or balanced a governmental budget, make a decision just because they believe a certain candidate does not meet their mold of what would make a good Republican elected official.”
“It is concerning to me, and should be to others, what their motivation behind this decision was,” Chairman Braswell said Thursday. “This close to an election do they really want to pick this type of a battle?”
Hamrick Disappointed With Decision
Hamrick said while disappointed with the GOP’s decision her focus will remain on winning a seat on the school board and helping children.
“The statement on a personal Facebook (page) shows goodwill in the election processes and demonstrating the importance of team work to the children. The School Board should have different people, different backgrounds and different thoughts. This way the board can discuss issues and bring in different values to help make our schools better for tomorrow.”
“If we were all one minded then we cannot help the schools grow in a forever changing world! I know how much it changes, I have young children in the school system and every single year there are lots of changes!”
Harris says there will be no additional sanctions or actions against Hamrick other than her name being removed from the Conservative Voter Guide. He also defended the county GOP party.
“The Johnston County Republican Party goes to great lengths to insure fairness to all candidates, but is even more committed to providing voters with sound information and true conservative spirit and values.”