Buncombe County – Buncombe County School Board Member Amy Churchill was removed from her political party’s executive board Tuesday night (December 6th) at a meeting of the county’s Republican Party.
Churchill was a member of the county GOP’s executive board, but after her open support of three Democratic candidates for the county school board, the party’s plan of organization called for her dismissal from the executive committee. Churchill also posted at least three posts on her Facebook page endorsing the candidates. All three won their seats.
Churchill, vice chair of the Buncombe County School Board, posted on Facebook on October 30th, “Be sure to vote for the candidates that believe in the value of a strong public education system for a strong community!” Below the caption was a picture of Judy Lewis, Kim Plemmons, and Rob Elliot, all candidates from the Democrat Party.
Then on November 8th (election day), she posted the same picture with the caption, “Congratulations to Judy Lewis, Rob Elliot, and Kim Plemmons!! I look forward to working with y’all on the Buncombe County School Board!!” Elliot and Plemmons left comments thanking Churchill for their support on her post.
According to the Buncombe County GOP Plan of Organization under Section E Part 3, it says, “Any Committee Member or Officer of a County, District, or State Republican Executive Committee campaigning in person, on social media, or in any other manner for a candidate, in any race, who is not a member of the Republican Party and is running in opposition to a member of the Republican Party, shall have been deemed to have automatically resigned from the committee and any position. In addition, no Committee Member or Officer shall serve as a treasurer or member of a campaign committee for any candidate, in any race, if that candidate is not a member of the Republican Party and is running in opposition to a member of the Republican Party.”
Buncombe County GOP Party Chairwoman Glenda Weinert told the Tribune after Churchill’s removal, “We did remove her from the executive committee, but the party feels very strongly about connecting better with communications and working to include Amy in the conversations, and for us to bridge that gap, we at least acknowledge she is a school board member and a Republican at the same time.”
She went on to say, “We want to make sure she [Churchill] feels welcome to come to the party [and] share information. That we have a good dialog and that we start to build the bridge, I guess, for lack of a better analogy, back to better conversation. And hopefully, it will engage our representation, and we will have a seat at the table with the school board.”
She added, “I think at the end of the day, I do know that Amy is willing to reengage with us and become actively involved in the conversation and hearing Republican concerns.”
Weinert was asked why she thought Churchill supported the Democratic candidates over the Republicans. Weinert stated that she believed it was social media and that things were being said there that should have been said privately. “I do believe she felt like the ones she supported were stronger candidates and had more experience in the field of school and education and the opportunity to serve on a board.”
Asked if Churchill made the right decision in supporting the Democratic candidates, Weinert said, “I’m not saying one way or the other. I think, obviously, we had our candidates. As chairs, we had our candidates, and they were running against other school board members in other parties. I think from Amy’s perspective, she viewed it as a non-partisan race and was choosing whom she thought would serve better. It doesn’t mean the party agrees or disagrees…we support our Republican candidates.”
Reaction to the removal
The Tribune contacted Churchill and asked if she planned to appeal the action or change parties, and she said, “Thanks for reaching out. I have no intention of appealing the decision or changing parties.” We also reached out to Churchill’s fellow GOP candidates, whom Churchill did not support during the race. Sara Disher Ratcliff told the Tribune, “I do not wish to comment,” and Kim Poteat did not respond to our attempts to contact her. However, GOP candidate Greg Park for the Erwin District did respond.
“I believe it is a great first step,” said Parks about Churchill’s removal from the executive committee. “I think the GOP is finally showing that we’re not just going to sit back and accept certain types of behavior. We’re ready to stand up and start winning some elections here in Buncombe County.”
Asked if Weinert’s action in removing Churchill was timed correctly. Parks responded, “I felt like when this action started happening during the election, that would have been the best time to have counteracted her [Churchill’s] actions. Because her action obviously had an impact on the election…We should have acted sooner.”