BY MIKE FUHRMAN
A Statesville man who calls himself the “Puppet Master” is dangerously close to achieving his goal of taking control of the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education.
Iredell County voters will have no one to blame but themselves — and a small group of power-obsessed politicians — if this happens. (Citing the wishes of Iredell GOP leaders, N.C. Sen. Andrew Brock inserted a provision in a 2015 bill making I-SS Board elections partisan contests despite the objection of N.C. Rep. John Fraley.)
In May of 2022, voters in the Republican primary selected several candidates backed by Micah Phelps, aka “the Puppet Master.” Those candidates are now poised to win seats on the I-SS Board in Tuesday’s general election.
Phelps — a convicted drug offender and frequent commentator on a now-defunct local radio show who claims he was in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021 — has stated publicly that he will control the seven-member board after Tuesday’s election.
“Now we have four votes on the school board. That’s a majority for four years,” he said in a YouTube interview. “We’re not going to put up with the garbage in Iredell County. I just want everyone to know — we’re not doing that.”
For the sake of Iredell County children and the future of our county, let’s hope that Phelps has overestimated his influence.
Here’s a look at where the “Puppet Master” stands on a few important issues:
♦ Phelps has publicly stated that I-SS should not accept any federal funding to support the district’s 20,000-plus students. Among other things, federal funding helps low-income, at-risk students who need additional academic support and pays for free and reduced-price lunches for students from low-income households, and more. Federal funds during the pandemic helped the district bolster school security, buy laptops and tablets for all students and provide retention bonuses for teachers and staff.
♦ Phelps has also stated that the N.C. Department of Public Instruction should be abolished and that all education policy should be the province of locally elected school boards. In a scenario where Phelps controls a majority of board votes, that would be a nightmare. Good luck hiring competent administrators and teachers. And imagine what that type of thinking will do to efforts to recruit new industry to the county. Finally, never mind that the N.C. Constitution gives control of public education to the state.
♦ Phelps called the current I-SS Board “cowards” for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. An unabashed anti-masker, he has boasted about sending Moms of Liberty members to school board meetings to call board members “tyrants and crooks.”
♦ Phelps and his mommies want to control what books students can read. They think they know better than parents and the district’s principals, teachers, counselors and media coordinators with advanced degrees. They have publicly attacked the integrity of a well-respected I-SS principal on this issue, calling him a purveyor of pornography.
The “Puppet Master” also plays loose with the facts when it suits his agenda. For example, since the May primary election, he has repeatedly taken credit for defeating the four incumbent I-SS board members. The fact is none of the incumbents sought re-election. After dealing with Phelps and the constant attacks and distractions — including disrupting a school board meeting and false bond claims straight out of the absurd QAnon playbook, it’s not surprising that the current board members have had enough.
I’ve been waiting for Republican leaders in our county to take a public stand against the “Puppet Master.” Sadly, as early voting drew to a close on Saturday, that has not happened. Top GOP officials, including current office-holders and the party’s executive committee, will bear some responsibility if Phelps’ puppets take charge of one of our school systems and one of the county’s largest employers.
It’s not too late to stop this madness. Here’s how you can help:
♦ Voters in District 1 should write in “Max James” on their ballots on Tuesday. James is a former school board member who served honorably before losing his re-election bid in the first partisan election. He is a qualified write-in candidate.
♦ Voters in District 3 should vote for Sarah Pittman on Tuesday. Pittman is a highly educated, articulate former teacher who will put the needs of students first.
♦ Voters in District 5 should vote for Billie Spevak on Tuesday. An independent, Spevak realizes that partisan politics and education do not mix.
We don’t know much about Phelps’ slate of candidates.
Abby Trent, Michael Kubiniec and Brian Sloan seem content to let the three letters on the ballot next to their name (REP) speak for them. That’s a calculated risk, but recent history indicates they will likely win as a result of their party affiliation. (Democrats and unaffiliated candidates running in partisan races have fared poorly in Iredell County for two decades.)
Phelps’ candidates did not participate in a recent forum sponsored by the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce and Our Schools First. Similarly, they did not participate in a series of candidate’s Q&As with the chamber and Iredell Free News.
Barring new information to the contrary, we’re left to assume that Phelps speaks for these candidates and, as the “Puppet Master” asserts, that he controls them. If you are a parent or grandparent of a student in I-SS schools, that should scare the hell out of you.
Mike Fuhrman is the editor of Iredell Free News.
23 thoughts on “Viewpoint: Will voters stop self-proclaimed ‘Puppet Master’ from taking control of Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education?”
Why didn’t you bring all this to light several times during early voting. Your information is correct. hopefully not to late.
Well written, Mike. I am glad you finally wrote this piece but wish it had been earlier. Maybe it will help those who hadn’t yet made a final decision.
We watched a video this week where this Phelps was in, I think, Lincoln County “training” people and said that he had FIRED ALL OF THE SCHOOL BOARD. Yep, he said fired them all. The crowd roared but I had to laugh because they are all still on the school board as of yesterday! His ego is like someone else the world knows and how the mighty may eventually fall.
Why anyone would follow this guy is beyond me. He needs to heard north on I77 back to West Virginia. He is not representative of the real Republican Party.
Micah Phelps and his former radio partner Angela Matthews are troublemakers. They are the only ones still talking about covid and masks. Those of us with half a brain and living in reality are over it. Unfortunately, Mr. Fuhrman’s expose is too little too late.
It sounds like Micah is over the target and the left/RINO establishment is awfully scared. America first; Iredell students first.
Has the Trumpite psychopathy filtered down to the local level this prolifically? This “witch-hunt” mentality started with one boy-king and seems to have emboldened every lunatic fresh off their meds.
So the voters should follow you instead of Phelps because you know what is best for them. You really think Iredell voters are so stupid that they would follow you or Phelps? Voters have seen what the teachers unions are up to across our Country and they have decided they have had enough of the indoctrinating. I am glad school board and judicial races now allow us to know which party candidates are affiliated with. It isn’t foolproof, but it certainly gives an indication of the values and intentions of those running.
What are you saying about people from West Virginia? It seems to be derogatory and presumptuous. Are all people from West Virginia like this fellow you don’t agree with or do they just deserve misfortune? I’m having trouble following you.
Phelps is from WVa.
Dude, Micah is the real deal and a real leader. Met him back when they was tryin to tear down the moment. We showed those people a thing or two! So what if he calls himself the puppet master. He has earned the right with what he has done. I will trust Micah over any of you liberal RINO clowns.
Mikey, Mikey, Mikey,
You’ve been served! You’ve been served!
I wonder how many people know that N Carolina teachers are not allowed to have a teachers Union and therefore not a voice.
Sounds to me like Micah Phelps must be on something. I don’t even understand what this puppet master stuff has to do with anything anyway. Are you at the Iredell fake news afraid of a single man who has enough guts to stand up for what he believes? Sounds to me like he is a man of passion and conviction who has enough get up and go to try to do something to stop the good ole boy system here in Iredell county.
Yes you are correct Mr. Pharr. He is ON SOMETHING! Lol
What’s with the way this guy dresses? Watched some of his YouTube videos going before different boards. A white undershirt with that greasy slicked back hair. Mickey, put on a real shirt and wash your hair, dude!
Why would we want to elect anyone who would allow themselves to be controlled by the likes of this person.
If this guy calls himself the “puppet master” then I would assume that those who willingly follow him consider themselves to be puppets. Puppets don’t think or do anything on their own. They depend on their master. Also, if these candidates are the ones who refused to attend the candidates forum, I must to wonder what they were afraid of. Or can they not think without their master? Why would anybody vote for such people?
Phelps is whining over on Facebook how he’s going to sue Mike Fuhrman for slander. One minute the puppet master is defending the First Amendment and then he’s against it. You can’t have it both ways Jim, uh, I mean Mikey.
Sam because there is no truth to what he writes!
The NCAE may not technically be a union but it operates just like one and is controlled by other Teacher’s unions. https://www.johnlocke.org/is-the-ncae-a-union/
Funny you say that because I challenged Micah on the the Patriots Corner FB page when he was spouting nonsense about “Furries” and “litter boxes” in schools. He blocked me after I challenged him to provide ANY proof of this. Even Joe Rogan admitted this stuff about “litter boxes” in schools was nonsense and he regretted his role in pushing this farce.
Micah is as snowflake as they come, running away and blocking people when he gets challenged to back anything he says up with proof.
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