- Beth Butler
Letter To The Editor
On January 17th, 2023 I went to my local commissioner’s meeting with serious concerns about District 1 Jimmy Tate’s residency. I became very concerned after reading a recent article in Star News November 2022 in reference to the old Hines Trailer Park that Mr. Tate had listed as his residence during the 2022 primary election. I learned the trailer park had been sold and developers were looking to redevelop. This sparked concerns about Mr. Tate’s residency and where he was living, which many people had been questioning since early 2022. I continued to speak to residents and business owners that Mr. Tate used to frequent, and kept hearing the same concerns from citizens, “Where does Jimmy Tate live, because no one has seen or heard from him since the election and we don’t have representation in our district”. So when I went to the commissioners I asked that exact question I had heard over and over again from concerned citizens. I asked our board of commissioners for an investigation in to Mr. Tate’s residency for transparency for the public. I clearly stated I was a concerned citizen, I followed up these concerns in an email to our county attorney and county manager the next day.
https://www.starnewsonline.com/story/news/2022/11/09/builders-looking-to-upgrade-topsail-island-trailer-park/ (may require subscription to read)
Concerned citizens throughout the county started calling the county managers office demanding a physical address for Mr. Tate because he is the only commissioner without one on record. The county managers office told residents Mr. Tate lives at 158 Candlestick Drive in Wallace, NC in Pender County; Residents grew highly concerned because this address IS NOT Pender County, in fact, it’s Duplin County where he has a home in River Landing. We knew at this point, our county didn’t know where Mr. Tate lived and didn’t have answers. Duplin County GIS Addressing Technician with Duplin County Communications, then emailed the below GIS map of Mr. Tate’s home. That evening Mr. Tate resigned citing racism and hate, which had absolutely nothing to do with concerns about his residence, I felt that was a way to deflect from the real issues and was absolutely false.
Over the past few years, I frequently ran in to Mr. Tate at events and fundraisers. In May of 2021, my husband and I attended a fundraiser to raise money for Mr. Tate’s 501c3 Mt. Calvary Center for Leadership and Development honoring the late Judge John Carroll. I was upset to later hear the 501c3 was accused of engaging in deceptive or improper fundraising practices.
Citizens became even more concerned when they realized Mr. Tate’s 501c3 was receiving funds from Pender County Juvenile and Crime Prevention Committee in excess of $35,000 last year and saw this as a conflict of interest for a sitting commissioner to receive funds for his private 501c3. Again these concerns were expressed to our local Board of Elections and the Pender County GOP. After multiple complaints and expressed concerns, former BOE chair S. Williams told residents all concerns about Mr. Tate had left their office and were supposed to be looked into by our State Board of Elections, but residents never heard back from either source.
After the meeting I was ridiculed by a local paper as a “political activist”, when I clearly stated, I WAS A CONCERNED CITIZEN speaking for many concerned citizens in our county. I was accused of being on a campaign of his opponent, I WAS NEVER ON ANY CAMPAIGN. I volunteered during the 2022 primary election educating voters on all candidates, especially state judges. Throughout the primary election, residents were concerned about Mr. Tate’s residence, especially since he had resigned in 2015 from District 4 Commissioner because of the same questions about his residency.
Mr. Tate initially registered his campaign and voter registration with the county using a PO Box as his address. When concerned residents began calling the local Board of Elections, all of the sudden the 31 N Topsail Drive address appeared. In conversations with Mr. Tate throughout my time knowing him since 2020, he stated his home was in River Landing Duplin County had once been flooded by Florence in 2018, but had since been renovated.
The Board of Elections also had his name spelled wrong, this would not allow his voter history to be viewed by residents. The BOE office said they accidentally misspelled his name. Residents also questioned his sudden change from voting Democrat to a sudden change to Republican the same day he registered his campaign. His voter history also showed years of voting in Duplin County, while also being on the Duplin County ABC board.
I also was concerned about the lawsuit from Coastal Pine Solar, LLC. Vs. Pender County.
View the full lawsuit here:
"The outside, or ex parte communication refers to commissioner Jimmy Tate’s comment at the end of the hearing that he had heard from “a lot” of farmers leading up to the hearing.
The University of North Carolina School of Government has addressed this issue specifically with regard to awarding or denying special use permits.
It notes “some degree” of informality is permissible in quasi-judicial proceedings like public hearings, but ex parte communication that goes undisclosed can be evidence of bias or unfairness." (PortCityDaily.com)