by The Political Agitator
Mr. Matthew Whittle as a longtime active Democratic Party member I have served as the chair, the 1st and 3rd vice chair on the county level and as 3rd vice chair on the precinct level for many years. I have some questions for you concerning your coverage of the board of elections meeting on Tuesday, June 21, 2005.
I really would like to know how you can say so bodly that the Edgecombe County Democratic Party really in a bit of turmoil over its candidates for the Edgecombe County Board of Elections. Is it because Roosevelt Higgs says there is a problem? Have you talked to anymore Democrats here in the county? I would like to know also how you can say so bodly that there is a controversy over the way the names submitted to the state board for final approval? Yes, they are not the names that were originally approved by the local Democrats' executive committee. I believe that nearly all the Democrats in the county were unaware of this until they read the newspaper on Tuesday. This is when I found out about it. Are you assuming that Roosevelt is speaking for all Democrats in the party? Yes, I had received a call that Higgs were calling around telling folks that Gladys Shelton's name had been added to the list but I didn't believe it.
You say the original list, explained the Rev. Roosevelt Higgs, vice chairman of the local Democrat Party, included, in order of preference, incumbent Dorothy Davis, incumbent Charles Rountree and Samuel Branch. At the meeting that Higgs is referring to the chair called out Samuel Branch, Dorothy Davis and Charles Rountree names in that order. A motion was made to accept the names and Higgs was allowed to amend the motion to change the order of the names to Davis, Rountree and Branch but the amended motion was shot down 52 - 39. This means Mr. Whittle that the chair of the party had the authority to send the names in any order she preferred. I have this meeting on video.
You say Rountree and Davis both said they had not yet been contacted by Edgecombe County Democratic Party Chairwoman Genotre Penny-Boone, the state Democratic party or the State Board of Elections. Why do they feel like they suppose to? The State Board of Elections will meet and appoint the people who will serve and they will send the list of names out for the entire state and not just Edgecombe County.
I find it amazing that Rountree being an attorney and has served on the board all these years and he is expecting the new chair to treat this outgoing board different. Rudolph Knight was not reappointed in the early 2000's and he went out in the same fashion that Rountree is going out. Knight and myself reminded Rountree at this meeting.
If it is fine with Rountree that his name is not on the list, it sure did not appear to be in his actions at this meeting. I have a problem with Rountree's comments that Gayle Hudson is the best because everybody is replaceable. To say that if the county loses her then the people on the board should be held accountable and the people who put them on the board should be held accountable. This is just damn ludicrous. It is obvious that Hudson feels a little uncomfortable with the changes that are about to take place because I heard her say within the last 2 months that she may retire soon.
Davis says she is fine that she may not continue to serve on this board but it sure did not appear to be in her actions at this meetng as well. You say "Shelton's name was added once it got to Raleigh probably with the support of Genotre," Higgs said. "And probably it was done by the state headquarters to force racial diversity onto the Edgecombe County Board of Elections, although that could have been done with Dorothy Davis (who is black) and Charles Rountree (who is white) continuing to serve. Again this is not for Higgs to decide but Penny-Boone.
You see it is not the 1st vice chair of the party that has the authority here but the chair of the party who just happens to be Mrs. Geontre Penny-Boone. I first met Mrs. Penny-Boone several months ago at a Debutante in Rocky Mount. I don't know Penny-Boone but I feel strongly that she has been straightforward since she has been serving in the county chair's position. She is correct the committee agreed on the names but she said the order was up to her.
Training is nothing new and both Rountree and Davis had to go to the training so therefore the new members can do the same.
You say of those names on the lists, Hudson said that Shelton does have election experience in various precincts for the Democrats. I would like to add that Samuel Branch is in his second term as a precinct chair however that does not matter because he is capable and willing to learn the job and he will do well.
Mr. Whittle as I stated at the meeting I reminded Rountree and Davis that they disrespected the past chair during the last election when Mrs. Celestine Lyons dropped off her information to Gayle Hudson and Lyons told her that she did not want any names added to or removed from the list simply because Higgs had been harassing her about some names he wanted to add. I protested the change that Rountree, Davis and Harrell voted on even after I pleaded with them to not allow Higgs names to be used. I also reminded Rountree that the same thing that is happening to him happened to Rudolph Knight when he was removed from this board. I told the board that this is a much bigger picture because Mrs. Penny-Boone is new, the state chair Jerry Meeks is new and there are changes going on across the state so this is not just about Edgecombe County. I said some other counties had sent in two new names whereby Edgecombe only sent in one new name. I also told Rountree that I felt that his spill at this meeting concerning he did not receive a courtesy call from the county chair Penny-Boone was a powerplay for the newspapers. I said that it is the newspapers who are promoting the negativity about the workings of the party because they are listening to Roosevelt Higgs. It is obvious that other black folks in the Democratic Party that attend the meetings means nothing to the papers because they have not confided in any of us who were present on Tuesday and other meetings since April when the new chair took over the party.