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Ousted sheriff apologizes again for election-night comments

Sheriff Wayne Gay blamed a racial divide in the county for his loss last week and told a crowd of supporters that he would work to help another candidate defeat Woodard in the general election.

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Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay
WILSON, N.C. — Wilson County's sheriff is again asking for forgiveness for comments he made after losing the primary election last Tuesday to a former sheriff's deputy and State Bureau of Investigation agent.

Wayne Gay blamed a racial divide in the county for his loss – Gay is white; his opponent, Calvin Woodard, is black – and told a crowd of supporters that he would work to help another candidate defeat Woodard in the general election.

Gay later said he apologized to Woodard, and in a letter published in Wednesday's Wilson Daily Times, wrote that he let down the public for his election-night comments.

The sheriff explained that he was "livid" because of "vicious rumors" about his family and comments referring to some of his black supporters as "lackeys."

"Despite those 'reasons,' I was wrong," he wrote. "There was no excuse for my reaction. Under the stress of the moment, you deserved much better. Please forgive me."

He also thanked readers for their support over the 28 years he has served as sheriff.

"I have always understood the sheriff's office, thankfully, does not 'belong' to any individual," he wrote. "You have the right to fill it as you wish. That's a right we should all cherish."

Woodard defeated Gay in the May 4 Democratic primary by a 62-38 percent margin.

Maj. John Farmer, a veteran officer with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office, announced his intention on Wednesday to run against Woodard as an unaffiliated candidate.

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Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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