Mark Casey considers his opponent in the Division 1 school board election a friend, but considers the numerous social media posts made by John Flana­gan disheartening.

Among the Face­book posts was a Willy Wonka meme on Face­book that read, “Oh you went to North Har­din High School? / Please tell me about how thug you are,” Other post topics of Flana­gan’s included the Black Lives Matter movement, about soaking money in Icy Hot to use to tip strippers and a meme of “I CAN BREATHE Because I obey the law.”

The Division 1 seat in the Hardin County Schools Board of Edu­cation represents northern Hardin County, including North Hardin High School.

“I’m a North Hardin graduate and my kids are and it’s hurtful,” said Casey, who was a member of the Class of 1975.

Casey said he is not going to launch a campaign attack. He said Flanagan has been a family friend for years and doesn’t want to disparage him.

But Casey said in an interview it was “appalling” that somebody would post something like that.

“I think if people took the time to go into North Hardin High School and look at what’s going on there, they wouldn’t see what people are saying is there,” Casey said.

Flanagan, a resident of Radcliff and U.S. Army veteran, said last week the NHHS meme was meant to invoke sarcasm and said he thinks people who call themselves “thugs” are “stupid.”

Both of his children are NHHS graduates and he said he doesn’t think all North Hardin students are “thugs.”

He said he has a different sense of humor than other people and he spends a significant amount of time on social media.

Casey retired three years ago after his wife died and he’s been helping to take care of his grandchildren. He said he became interested in serving on the school board a couple of years ago.

“Now that I’m retired, I’m settled, and I have my life back, I’m ready to move forward and actually do something for the community, and being on the school board is the ideal thing for me,” Casey said.

He said his two daughters graduated from North Hardin and his three grandchildren currently are in the HCS district.

Casey said board members need to have a more direct presence within the schools.

“I need to be out in the schools and to talk to those parents and those students. So I will do that,” he said.

While there are issues within the schools, Casey said he’s trying to focus more on its positive aspects.

Casey said the northern end of Hardin County is a diverse community and needs time and attention.

“We just have to be good to each other,” he said. “Kindness is a thing in this community now, and we need to be kinder, gentler and understand our differences and be supportive.”

The general election is Nov. 3.

Andrew Harp can be reached at 270-505-1747 or aharp@thenewsenterprise.com.