APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – A seemingly quiet Apex Town Council race is turning into a baffling battle between parties after the Democratic Party of Wake County is claiming a commissioner’s endorsement of a Republican candidate is made up.
Wake County Democratic Chair Brian Fitzsimmons said this is the kind of thing that makes people sick of politics.
The conundrum began Friday, when Scott Lassiter mailed out about 1,000 advertisements touting Wake County Commissioner Betty Lou Ward’s endorsement.
“On one side it’s a picture of Commissioner Ward, and on the other side, right next to that is a lengthy quote that is attributed to her,” said Fitzsimmons.
“The purpose of the mailer was to let Democratic voters know that we do have a wonderful and high profile Democrat that supports me,” said Lassiter.
That is something the Democratic Party of Wake County disputes. Fitzsimmons says he’s spoken to Ward, and she tells him and other Democrats she made no such endorsement.
“There absolutely was not an approval from Commissioner Ward to send a mailer, to use a quote,” said Fitzsimmons.
The Democratic Party sent out a press release that even quotes Ward as saying, “Mr. Lassiter misused a polite conversation” and that “voters should disregard the ad.”
Lassiter said in a phone conversation with Ward Sunday evening, she denied having a hand in that release.
“Commissioner Ward doubled down on her support for me. She specifically told me she did still support me,” said Lassiter.
WNCN spoke to Ward on the phone Sunday. She said she stands by her endorsement of Lassiter. She said she didn’t know why the Democratic Party of Wake County would send out a release saying otherwise and she had no further comment.
Lassiter does admit the statement on his ads featuring Ward is not a direct quote from the commissioner herself.
“She gave me permission to use supportive words,” he said.
That part of the endorsement just adds to the confusion for both parties, and leaves a muddled image for voters. Still, both sides agree Tuesday’s election should not be about party politics, but the community’s future.
“We call these nonpartisan elections for a very specific reason. And it’s because local municipalities, in order to grow in a smart and manageable way, they need to have people that are willing to look beyond ideology and look at what’s best for the city or town,” said Fitzsimmons.
“Ultimately, the Town of Apex will be just fine. This election is not about me,” said Lassiter.