Former Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph’s four-word description of a candidate who wants his old job has prompted that candidate to blast the comment as untrue, inappropriate and unprofessional.
In an email, Pendergraph called Democrat Antoine Ensley “a Nick Mackey clone.”
“The fact is former Sheriff Pendergraph knows very little if anything tangible about me to make such a remark linking me to Mr. Mackey in such a negative manner,” Ensley emailed Democratic activists in response.
Ensley faces Sheriff Chipp Bailey in next week’s Democratic primary. Pendergraph, a former Democrat, is running for nomination as a Republican to the board of county commissioners.
The spat revives the controversy that ensued when Pendergraph stepped down in 2007.
He supported longtime colleague Bailey for the job. Mackey beat Bailey in a special local party election, later thrown out by the state party for irregularities. County commissioners went on to appoint Bailey.
The drawn-out controversy split the party and the community, often along racial lines.
Pendergraph says he sent the email to one person “because somebody was asking me who to vote for.”
“I don’t deny sending that but I don’t remember who I sent it to,” he said today.
Ensley says it doesn’t matter.
“Whether it went to one person or 5,000 people, to make a comment about a candidate that you don’t know and to suggest that he’s linked to somebody … is totally inappropriate and unprofessional,” he says. “I was just offended by it.”
Ensley and Mackey, now a state legislator, worked together at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department. But he says Mackey neither recruited nor encouraged him to run for office.
“It’s intended to distract people,” he said of Pendergraph’s email. “I would expect a lot better from somebody who served this community in such a leadership way.”