STATESVILLE Just days after saying she wouldn’t resign for falsifying a building inspection form related to her private Christian school in Statesville, Iredell County commissioner Renee Griffith announced Wednesday that she will relinquish her seat on the board.
Griffith, a tea party Republican whose at-large seat is up for election in November, said she decided “the fight to stay does not outweigh the price my family, my friends and this community would be forced to pay,” according to a written statement sent to commissioners’ Chairman Steve Johnson and local media.
“I leave this position knowing there is much work to be done in this county,” Griffith said in the statement, as posted on the local Gatton Report blog. “During this very difficult time the good people of this county have reached out to me with love, support and prayers.”
Griffith’s decision came a day after the all-Republican Iredell County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to ask her to resign. Griffith voted against the resolution.
Jason Abernethy, chairman of the Iredell County Republican Party, also had called on Griffith to resign.
Mooresville commissioner Mac Herring said that although he found Griffith to be a likeable person, “my concern is she’s been slamming public education. She has belittled county employees.”
But of more concern, he said, was Griffith’s recent admission that she falsified a building inspection form related to her private Christian school and then lied to cover it up.
Griffith initially told state officials the falsification was the fault of a former employee but later admitted she fabricated that story, the (Statesville) Record & Landmark has reported.
“There is no excuse for my actions,” Griffith wrote to the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education, which accredits her school, Cornerstone Christian Academy, according to the Record & Landmark.
In an interview with the newspaper last week, Griffith, the school’s founder and principal, denied any wrongdoing. The newspaper reported that it then obtained documents that detailed her admission to the agency. That’s when Griffith acknowledged to a reporter what she’d done.
Elected officials from across the county, meanwhile, joined other registered voters in signing a petition this week urging the Iredell County Board of Elections to add a line to the November ballot allowing for a write-in candidate, Herring told the Observer late Wednesday.
The initiative required the signatures of 100 registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, and the Board of Elections ended up certifying 272 signatures, Herring said. The petition asked the board to add the write-in line so the petitioners could add the name of former longtime Iredell County commissioner Sara Haire Tice to the write-in line in November, Herring said.
Herring said he spoke with Tice earlier Wednesday and she told him she’d be willing to serve again. The entire Mooresville Board of Commissioners and Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins signed the petition, Herring said.
Also signing the petition were former Mooresville Mayor Bill Thunberg, who is now executive director of the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission, and former Mooresville commissioner Mitch Abraham, Herring said.
As a Republican in a solidly Republican county, Griffith was virtually guaranteed re-election. Hers is one of three at-large seats up for election. No Democrat has won a seat since the early 1990s.