By Richard Sullins |

Lee County Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack lashed out at three members of the local Board of Elections for not providing him access to the county’s voting machines to film “training videos” and launched another attack against the chair of the county’s school board, Sandra Bowen, just one week after the party’s Executive Committee found her guilty on three charges of disloyalty to the party and other conduct that it held to be in violation of its plan of organization.

Womack was the only speaker during the public comment period of the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting held Monday night at the McSwain Center. Commenters have three minutes in which to make their case about whatever matter they wish to bring to the attention of the commissioners and Womack used his time to fire off his rounds in rapid succession.

The GOP chairman said he “made a reasonable request of our Board of Elections recently to use county-owned and taxpayer-paid voting equipment at our Board of Elections office for the purpose of making supervised training videos so that poll observers and judges can be trained statewide on important election integrity matters.”

Womack said that he is president of the Election Integrity Network, a creation of the North Carolina Republican Party, and that it was his job “to train over 5,000 observers statewide and these training videos were pivotal to that end.”

But he says Lee County Board of Elections members Jonathan Silverman and Susan Feindel, both Democrats, and Shannon Gurwitch, a Republican, “demonstrated genuine lack of concern about election integrity through their neglect of even seeking more information about the request.”

Womack went on to claim that “Silverman should be reprimanded for his insistence that the Board of Elections will not give back the $300,000 surplus they had left over from the budget last year.”

But it was in the closing moments of his three minutes that he set his sights on his favorite target – the Lee County public schools.

Long a critic of the district’s performance, Womack urged commissioners not to increase their budget by a single penny when it comes time for allocations this summer.

“The principal impediment holding Lee County back from optimal growth and prosperity is our failing public school system. I urge commissioners not to provide any increases in funding over last year,” he said.

Womack said his reasons for calling for the zero budget increase include “our continued decline in average daily maintenance, or headcount, the board’s ridiculous renewal of the superintendent’s contract for two more years without any good cause or hope for improvement, and because the school board has no objective plans to share with you about improving achievement or growth.”

His time came to an end with a final sentence that made it clear that it wasn’t just the superintendent who had gotten under his skin. His last words were “tell that arrogant board chairman she is wrong when she claims it is none of your business how they spend our tax dollars.”

Last Monday, February 28, Bowen, a Republican who chairs the Lee County Board of Education, was called to appear before the Executive Committee of the Lee County Republican Party to answer its charges that her loyalty should be to the local party before all else. Bowen’s response was “my allegiance is to Christ alone, my first loyalty beyond him is to my family, and very far down that list is the political party.”

As The Rant reported last week, the committee found Bowen guilty on three of the four charges. As a result, she will face formal censure by the local GOP and will receive no support from it should she choose to run for re-election in 2024.