Group could still support candidate after being charged with family violence

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News 12 11pm / Sunday, May 11, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- A group endorsing a school board candidate may reconsider their support after a family fight lands him in jail. James Swanagan is behind bars in Richmond County after deputies say he hit his daughter with a belt.

A police report says things got violent after Swanagan's daughter used a derogatory word and now supporters wonder what their next move will be.

A street where kids play basketball could now be the downfall for a school board hopeful.

"I want to hear his side of the story," said Sallie Thomas, the President of the Richmond County Bus Drivers Union.

Thomas says even though James Swanagan was arrested that doesn't mean her group will stop backing him.

"The officers and I will get with our people and we will talk over our endorsement of Rev. Swanagan," she said.

Fairington Drive is where deputies say they found the candidate, holding his 29 year old daughter by the hair, and beating her with a belt Saturday night. Swanagan told investigators his daughter's use of a derogatory word towards his fiancee is how things got started.

"I have never seen him be aggressive, but I do know that he requires his family to give him respect," said Thomas.

The union leader says even if the charges stick voters shouldn't hold it against him, because his opponent has baggage too.

"Venus Cain has a record of her own," she said

The current school board president was arrested on disorderly conduct after a domestic dispute with her husband in 1995. When reached by News 12 to comment on Swanagan's situation she declined

"At this time I still stand behind him until all the facts come out," said Monique Braswell.

Braswell is also running for the school board and was recently endorsed by the same group and says age is nothing but a number.

"You never get to old to get disciplined by your parents," Braswell said.

Something the bus drivers union president agrees with.

"You don't disrespect your parents period. No matter how old you are," she said.

The union leader also worked with Swanagan and even considered running for the seat herself. She says she would've done it if she thought he wouldn't make a good candidate.

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