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Controversial candidate elected to Onslow School Board over three current members

Eric Whitfield was fired from his job back in March after making racial slurs online.
Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 7:23 PM EST
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A controversial Republican candidate unseated three current Onslow County School Board members Tuesday during elections.

Chairperson Pam Thomas and members Earl Taylor and Paul Wiggins, who all ran unaffiliated, lost their re-election bids to four Republican candidates, including current member Ken Reddic and Eric Whitfield.

Whitfield’s campaign was muddied with controversy in March when he used a racial slur in a Facebook post, calling a group of African Americans “ignorant darkies.”

Eric Whitfield referred to a group of African Americans as "ignorant darkies."
Eric Whitfield referred to a group of African Americans as "ignorant darkies."(Liam Collins)

A controversial Republican candidate unseated three current Onslow County School Board members Tuesday during elections.

Chairperson Pam Thomas and members Earl Taylor and Paul Wiggins, who all ran unaffiliated, lost their re-election bids to four Republican candidates, including current member Ken Reddic and Eric Whitfield.

Whitfield’s campaign was muddied with controversy in March when he used a racial slur in a Facebook post, calling a group of African Americans “ignorant darkies.”

“I think in the long run, people do have the children’s best interest in mind,” said Reddic. “We have some excellent board members currently. And, those new members are going to bring something positive to the table.”

Jacksonville Christian Academy leaders fired Whitfield over the comment. The Onslow County GOP has denounced the term and Whitfield’s candidacy and says they did not campaign for him.

“All I can do is really keep praying that he does come around and do the right thing,” said Melissa Oakley, a Republican who also won the election Tuesday along with Joseph Speranza. “If he does stay seated on the board. I’m hoping for the best with that.”

A spokesperson for the county Republican Party told WITN News that they are disappointed with the election result, and they hope he steps down.

But the results have left parents shocked, confused, and worried about their children’s education.

“It’s sad,” said Onslow County parent Rodney Williams. “It’s sad that people even look at color like that. It’s 2020. It’s not 1929.”

“I’m not quite sure what happened here,” said Onslow County Grandparent Deborah Blizard. “Whether parents are disillusioned.”

“He’s made a mockery of our education system,” said Onslow County Parent Jennifer Kellum. “He thinks this is a joke. And my kids' education is not a joke. We work very hard, we spend money on tutoring, and we’re active in our schools. And, as a former teacher, we take education very seriously.”

WITN News contacted Whitfield for comment. He responded by saying the story is “boring and isn’t newsworthy.”

The Onslow County School System thanked Thomas, Taylor, and Wiggins for their service on the board in a statement to WITN News, but declined to comment on Whitfield’s election directly.

The new members will be sworn in on December 1.

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