David Nicholson's Juneteenth post leads to ban by NC city, county association

A Facebook post made in on the Juneteenth holiday in 2022 by a former Henderson County manager who was also a former director of the North Carolina Apple Festival is continuing to have serious consequences.

The North Carolina City and County Management Association announced March 30 in an email to the Times-News that former Henderson County Manager David Nicholson has not only been censured but has also had his lifetime membership with NCCCMA revoked due to a Facebook post he made about the Juneteenth holiday in 2022.

Former Henderson County Manager David Nicholson.
Former Henderson County Manager David Nicholson.

"At its March 21, 2023 meeting, the NCCCMA Executive Committee voted to approve the following ethics recommendation from the NCCCMA Professional Conduct Committee after a thorough review process: Mr. David Nicholson, NCCCMA life member and retired county manager of Henderson County, was publicly censured for conduct that violated Tenet 3 of the Code of Ethics," NCCCMA said in a statement from an email from Executive Director Rob Shepherd. "The executive committee also revoked Mr. Nicholson’s life membership and barred him from future membership with NCCCMA."

More: 'Sarcastic' Juneteenth post deleted; apology issued after local director faced criticism

The NCCCMA received notice of a potential ICMA Code of Ethics violation by Nicholson on June 29 following an article in the Times-News and BlueRidgeNow.com. The article reported that Nicholson, while serving as the executive director of the North Carolina Apple Festival, posted disparaging comments on Facebook on June 19 that were deemed offensive to members of the public regarding the Juneteenth holiday.

Nicholson served as the Henderson County manager from 1996-2005 and had worked in the county for 30 years.

According to past Times-News reporting, Nicholson's Facebook post, which was deleted, said “The Post Office is closed today for some made up holiday that I never heard of? Just when is the ‘Old Fat White Man Day’? I really want to celebrate this day.”

After the published report, Nicholson made a public apology on Facebook. He told the Times-News: "When it popped up, I, trying to be sarcastic, posted the note to Facebook. I certainly have learned my lesson and a lot about Juneteenth over the past day. As for the old fat white guy, it was just me being sarcastic. When I posted it, I had no idea what the holiday even was. Seriously, I had no idea.”

Just a few days later, Nicholson resigned as the NC Apple Festival director. According to Shepherd, Nicholson did provide statements to the Professional Conduct Committee, but Shepherd said those proceedings are confidential.

"The NCCCMA Professional Conduct Committee reviewed the complaint and reviewed the public information regarding the allegations to determine an appropriate course of action," Shepherd said in the email. "After reviewing all relevant information, including responses from Mr. Nicholson, the NCCCMA Professional Conduct Committee acknowledged there was ample evidence of the allegation as well as a public statement issued by the NC Apple Festival Board of Directors for whom Mr. Nicholson served as the Executive Director that substantiated the statement made by Mr. Nicholson and that Mr. Nicholson subsequently resigned as the executive director of the NC Apple Festival as a result the incident.

"The NCCCMA Executive Committee considered the impact that Mr. Nicholson’s comments had on the Henderson County community and that the comments he made about the Juneteenth holiday were inappropriate and offensive by members of the public, and therefore a violation of Tenet 3 of the Code of Ethics, which states that NCCCMA members, including Life Members, should 'Demonstrate by word and action the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in all public, professional, and personal relationships in order that the member may merit the trust and respect of the elected and appointed officials, employees and the public.'"

More: NC Apple Festival executive director resigns over Juneteenth Facebook post

Shepherd said in the email statement that as a condition of NCCCMA membership, all members must ascribe to the professional code of ethics adopted by the International City/County Management Association.

NCCCMA is a state affiliate of ICMA, whose membership includes over 500 municipal and county managers, deputy managers and assistant managers. According to the email, the NCCCMA’s purpose is to promote ethical, professional public management while building vibrant and prosperous North Carolina communities.

Dean Hensley is the news editor for the Hendersonville Times-News. Email him with tips, questions and comments at DHensley@gannett.com. Please help support this kind of local journalism with a subscription to the Hendersonville Times-News.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: David Nicholson's Juneteenth post leads to ban by NC association