Public school funding dispute gets personal

Jun. 28, 2013 @ 11:24 AM

The school board mediation is getting contentious, particularly between County Commissioner Jonathan Thomas and School Board member Kevin Stewart. 

Stewart said in speaking with Thomas on Monday, Thomas told him “that he’d rather spit into my hand (than) shake it.”

Thomas also called Stewart a liberal and said he “needed to apologize for what I’ve done to the conservative cause,” Stewart said.

“Apparently, being able to think independently and judge situations and arguments based on the fact or merit doesn’t agree with Thomas,” Stewart said. 

Thomas, last year, caused a bit of tension when he said Union County Public Schools central staff spent money like drunken sailors. 

“This is a pattern from Jonathan Thomas that is more indicative of (the) character of a sandlot bully than a gentleman,” Stewart said. 

When contacted Thursday afternoon Thomas said Stewart was “stirring issues” to “dodge the bullet.”

“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Thomas said. “Monday night we were focused on the work at hand.” 

Thomas said he went around to everyone before the meeting, shaking hands and saying hello, though he was not sure if Stewart was in the room. 

“I don’t know what his perception is,” Thomas said, when asked if Stewart’s recollection was correct. “It’s not for me judge his perception...I’ve been called names and I’ve been referred to on his social media site.” 

Thomas described it as “another one of his antics and I refuse to do that.” 

Thomas said he will continue to focus on a resolution to the current issues between the commissioners and the school board. 

“I am not going to stoop to that level,” Thomas said. “I refuse to play his games.” 

Stewart said the two have exchanged words before. 

“This is not the first time we’ve seen Jonathan Thomas pop off at the mouth...this is a pattern. This is common with him,” Stewart said. “I’m really disappointed in him.” 

Thomas said Stewart’s rants and comments are “doing nothing to help the situation.”

“The people of Union County don’t care what Kevin Stewart thinks of me or what I think of him,” Thomas said.