A New Hanover County school board candidate called for a recount after finishing just two votes behind his opponent.
Nelson Beaulieu requested a recount by the New Hanover County Board of Elections after losing to Jennah Bosch in the school board’s Democratic primary.
Beaulieu, an incumbent, was only three votes ahead of Bosch at the end of election night, but after all mail-in ballots were counted and the vote was finalized during the county canvass, Bosch took the lead by just two votes.
“I worked really hard and my family worked really hard, and I felt like I owed it to my supporters to make sure we checked the result,” Beaulieu said.
Going forward, Bosch will claim the fourth and final Democratic nomination to the New Hanover County School Board in November, alongside candidates Veronica McLaurin-Brown, Dorian Cromartie and Judy Justice. This could change depending on the result of the recount.
Candidates can demand a recount if there is less than a 1% split between them and the lowest candidate. Beaulieu and Bosch are only separated by 0.01% of the vote.
Beaulieu said that regardless of the outcome of the recount, he thinks Bosch deserves “a lot of credit” for his campaign. He said if she eventually becomes the final candidate on the ballot, she would have his support.
“I think she should be very proud and wish her the best, win, lose or draw,” Beaulieu said.
Beaulieu also filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections for alleged campaign finance violations. He claims that Justice, McLaurin-Brown and Cromartie incorrectly classified donations made to their campaigns that funded palm card distribution.
More importantly, Beaulieu alleges that the judiciary improperly filed a donation from former candidate for State Superintendent Jen Mangrum. Mangrum contributed $1,000 to the Justice campaign through her own campaign fund, Jen Mangrum for NC. Justice, however, reported this as a personal donation from Mangrum in his campaign financial report.
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With the funding, the Justice Department had palm cards printed promoting herself, Cromartie, and McLaurin-Brown as “teacher-approved candidates.”
Beaulieu alleges that because of this, Cromartie and McLaurin-Brown also violated campaign finance laws because they failed to report Mangrum’s donation in their own documents. Candidates are required to deposit in-kind contributions, or contributions from another candidate’s campaign, if they have coordinated to fund and distribute materials such as palm cards.
“I had a contribution and spent it on the campaign,” Justice said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s legal.
Beaulieu said it’s a complicated issue, but he hopes the Board of Elections will review his complaint and make a decision based on state campaign finance laws.
Beaulieu also filed an ethics complaint with the state Democratic Party. He said he believed ethics were violated when sample ballots were distributed to voters with his name crossed out, saying he had dropped out of the race.
While there is no legal action he can take, Beaulieu said he feels he needs to speak out to hold each other accountable.
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“I think if we’ve reached the point where it doesn’t matter, if a vote is just a vote, it doesn’t matter if you’re tricking a voter or persuading a voter, I think that’s really sad,” Beaulieu said. . “It’s not just politics. I think it’s a sad way to make an election, to exist in a party. I don’t think that’s the way we should behave.
Cromartie said in response to the ethics complaint, the best thing to do is support other candidates in an effort to unite the party. He said in response to the campaign finance complaint that he didn’t feel like he had done anything wrong and wished he hadn’t been “swept into the mess or mess.” drama he (Beaulieu) is trying to concoct”.
Cromartie said if the Board of Elections fined him for a violation, he planned to pay it, implement corrective action in his campaign and move on.
“I don’t focus on small, insignificant issues,” Cromartie said. “I’m focusing on the big picture, which is getting elected, so that we can implement good changes for our students.”
McLaurin-Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The judge said she believed it was just part of the policy. She said she’s also seen ballots circulating with her own name crossed out, and that’s part of running for office.
She said she thinks the complaints are a last ditch effort after Beaulieu lost the primary nomination and after a tumultuous relationship the two had during their four years on the board together.
“Those are just sour grapes,” Justice said.
Reporter Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or [email protected]