Sumter school board candidate apologizes for using gay slur at opponent

Bowman heard on recording talking in profanities about Alston, another woman


A Sumter School District Board of Trustees candidate is being asked by state Democratic officials to apologize after a recording revealed her calling a fellow candidate a gay slur.

Barbara Bowman, who is seeking the Area 1 Sumter School District seat in the Nov. 6 midterm general election, can be heard on a recorded conversation obtained by The Sumter Item - it did not appear she knew she was being recorded - calling one of her three opponents, Brian Alston, the slur in reference to his confrontation with her over making campaign posts for the nonpartisan school board race on the partisan Sumter County Democrats Facebook page.

Alston, a Rembert resident, told The Item on Thursday he received a Facebook message on Oct. 14 from Bowman, who is the Sumter County Democratic Party chairwoman, saying, "Brian DO NOT post (sic) any information about school board race on the SUMTER Democratic Party site. Our site is monitored and your school board post was removed. This is a non-partisan race. Thank you!"

Multiple posts on the party page could be seen on Thursday of Bowman promoting her school board campaign. She also posted a promotional video on that day on the page.

She took those posts down after Alston asked the state Democratic Party to tell her to remove them on Saturday at a monthly meeting.

Bowman said Tuesday evening her campaign posts appearing on the party's page were in error - that she meant for them to only be on her own candidate page.

In the recording, which was from Sunday, obtained by The Item, Bowman, a Cherryvale resident, called a woman "this b***" in reference to "going back and forth" with her on the party page.

"I'm going to cut her a*** off. I'm done with her," she is heard saying.

At the beginning of the recording, she referenced what she said to the woman and identified herself by saying, "I'm Barbara Bowman."

She then talked about putting a campaign video on her own Facebook page and news feed.

"Because I can do that. But I can't put it on the Democratic page, and I'm good with that. I wish you were here yesterday. Do you know that f*****, that m***f*** came into that meeting?" she can be heard saying.

"Who?" another person responds.

"Brian!" she responded.

The number of people in the room at the time of the conversation in the recording was not clear.

Alston is calling for Bowman to drop out of the race and resign as the party chairwoman for Sumter County.

Trav Robertson, chairman of the state Democratic Party, did not go so far as to ask for those campaign actions but did confirm she used the slur.

"What Barbara Bowman said was hateful language and completely unacceptable," he said in a statement. "We call on her to immediately apologize to Brian Alston and the LGBTQ community."

Alston said he does not label himself as anything and that making the remark is offensive to the constituents of Area 1 and all of Sumter School District and Sumter County.

"There is no reason for me not to apologize deeply," Bowman said Tuesday afternoon. "This is not what I stand for. I owe an apology to them [Alston and the LGBTQ community], and I feel awful about it."

She said the election has been stressful in trying to differentiate her "dual jobs" as county Democratic Party chair and non-partisan candidate for the school board.