NAACP must have new election for W-S branch election

NAACP must have new election for W-S branch  election
April 02
00:00 2015

Members of the Winston-Salem Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) finally have an answer to a long-awaited question.

For months members have been in limbo as to what to do about the results from an election in January.

The state NAACP was brought in to assist with an election in January after Incumbent S. Wayne Patterson, who has been president since 2010, asked that the election be monitored, implying that bylaws and procedures were not being adhered to.

The complaint sent to the national office stated that campaign material was passed out inside of the 50-foot buffer zone and that there were no printed ballots. at that election. The issue of campaign material was not addressed in the national office’s letter regarding the election results.

Isaac “Ike” Howard was elected president in the Jan. 10 election. Other winners were Doris Herrell, first vice president; Harry James Jr., third vice president; Stephen Hairston, assistant treasurer; and Jim Shaw and Linda Sutton, who won executive board seats. The second vice president position is empty and neither the secretary nor treasurer positions were challenged.

Those results are now null and void.

Patterson, a Winston-Salem native, said that he feels vindicated in his decision to call in oversight for the election.

“The results confirmed what I said,” he said. “I understand the policies of the NAACP and I knew that the polices and procedures were in violation. However, after the national office stated that we were in violation, they mandated a new election date.”

Howard said that he is just fine with holding another election.

“Being a part of the NAACP, a civil rights organization, we follow the mandate of due process. We can’t ask for due process unless we follow the rules of due process ourselves, on the national and state level,” he said.

A letter, dated March 3,  on NAACP letterhead, states:

“The National Office has received a complaint that was postmarked within the five (5) days after the election and signed by the twenty-five (25) members of the Branch as prescribed by the Bylaws for Units (Article IX, Section 2 (o)). The allegation pertains to the failure to use printed ballots. In accordance with sub-section (a), the National Office has reviewed the matter to determine if the allegations, if true, would have affected the outcome of the election or if they are devoid of merit and/or frivolous.

The National Board of Directors reviewed the findings of the National Staff at the February 21, 2015, board meeting and directed that a new election take place…”

The letter is signed by NAACP President and CEO Cornell Brooks, with CC’s to the Rev. William Barber, state president; Rev. Gill Ford, the National Director of Unit Administration; and the Winston-Salem (Forsyth) County Branch Executive Committee.

The new election will be done, again, by the state conference and would only be open to those members who would’ve been eligible to vote on the date of the originally scheduled election on Nov. 19, 2014.

So what does that mean to those officers who were seemly elected in January?

The letter states:

“In accordance with Article IX, Section 2(o)(c), the officers whose terms were to have expired will continue to serve until a new election occurs.”

Patterson said this means that there will be a new election.

“The election is going to be governed accordingly based on the correct polices and procedures when it comes to the election process.”

The agency has been attempting to elect new officers since November 2014. Patterson originally called in the state chapter to oversee the election due to some violations of the agencies bylaws.

According to Patterson, names of candidates were submitted after the nomination process was closed. Protocol calls for each person running for an office to have been a dues-paying member prior to April 15 of the election year. Patterson said that some people paid their membership dues in August, making them ineligible to seek office. He said that those running for offices had to submit their names, verbally and in writing, to the nomination committee before their Oct. 28 meeting. An individual could have also been nominated from the floor prior to the nomination process being closed at the meeting.

This is not the first time the state has been called in to oversee a Winston-Salem branch election. In 2004, when incumbent Stephen Hairston was being challenged by JoAnn Allen amid questions about the branch’s finances and voting methods, a N.C. NAACP official oversaw the vote.

Patterson, who said he has increased membership in the organization and has garnered funds to renovate headquarters including opening a computer lab and library for the community, said that if elected this would be his last term. He is also ready to get past the election.

“Hopefully we can start focusing on more community activities, our Freedom Fund and activities that the national office has mandated the local office to do,” he said. “We are ready to get down to business.”

Howard, a long-time community activist who is running on visibility, dependability and accountability, agrees wholeheartedly.

“People are looking for the NAACP to begin exerting itself and doing what we are supposed to be doing, which is addressing issues locally, statewide and nationally,” he said. “With the election hold up, we can’t do anything else. We’ve just been frozen.”

A date for the new election has yet to be announced.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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