Hertford wall

Quentin Jackson, in coat and tie to the right and motioning with his hands, must be separated by a wall from fellow town councilman Sid Eley, in a blue shirt to the left.

HERTFORD, N.C.

Quentin Jackson spoke at length about malfunctions of the town's computer systems during a meeting Monday, making eye contact with all of his fellow council members except one.

His nemesis, Sid Eley.

An actual wall separates them since the two argued after a meeting in October and a punch was thrown. Jackson has appealed a district court conviction in January of striking a government official, "hitting him on the left side of the temple with a closed fist," according to a court document.

"He got into my face," Jackson, 33, said earlier Monday. "I asked him three times to get out of my face."

Eley, 72, maintains Jackson approached him and asked why he was not backing the local democratic party. Eley told him he did not agree with the party supporting Jackson and another councilman, Frank Norman. That's when he struck, Eley said.

Mayor Horace Reid was there but did not see what started the scuffle.

"They were both still standing," he said.

Jackson was ordered to have no contact with Eley, but that raised the question of how he was to continue going to council meetings and town functions without running into him. Jackson came close to Eley at town meetings, a social event and a house fire where Eley responded as a volunteer firefighter, according to a record documenting violations of the court order.

A superior court judge ruled in May that Jackson could continue going to town meetings under the conditions that he stay 20 feet from Eley and that a physical barrier be set up between the two in council chambers.

The small room at the town administration building on Grubb Street makes it hard for the pair to stay 20 feet apart. Tables are set together in a U shape with seating for five council members including the mayor. The town manager and a staff member also sit at the tables.

The wall stands about five feet tall and looks like a divider between office cubicles. Eley sits next to the wall. Directly on the other side is Reid and then Jackson, who serves as mayor pro tem, the vice mayor position. Eley cannot see Jackson, but he is closer than 20 feet.

Hertford is a town of about 2,100 where residents can't help but pass each other at least occasionally on Market Street where most shops and the courthouse are located. 

Jackson has been embroiled in legal issues since last year including resisting an officer, perjury, trespassing, probation violation and obstruction of justice, according to media reports and court records. It is not clear which cases have been adjudicated or are under appeal. If Jackson is found guilty of perjury he could face jail time and lose his seat on the council, according to a report in The Daily Advance. Jackson was elected to the town council in November 2017.

Eley was the mayor of Hertford for 12 years and is director of the Perquimans County Chamber of Commerce.

But the town business continues, Eley said.

A budget meeting continued Monday in spite of the wall.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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