June 10, 2013 9:51:32 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
At least one sitting Oktibbeha County Democratic Executive Committee member is asking the group's chairman to schedule a meeting this month and take action against high-ranking party officials who were spotted at a May Republican fund-raiser.
After the June 4 election, local Democratic Party Chairman Chris Taylor said party meetings are not scheduled until late September, but executive committee member Patti Drapala is petitioning to discuss the party rift this month. The OCDP meets on the last Tuesday of each month.
Photos surfaced on social media last month linking three Democratic aldermen-elects - Roy A. Perkins, Henry Vaughn and Lisa Wynn -and executive committee member Dorothy Isaac at Republican mayoral candidate Dan Moreland's May 29 fund-raiser. Another photo also showed Elzena Neal, the wife of executive committee member Kennedy Neal, at the same event.
"Several members of the Oktibbeha County Executive Committee are outraged about the choice of two of our committee members to attend the fund-raiser...They are also concerned that three aldermen, who were elected to their positions as Democrats, also attended this function," Drapala's letter states. "We are all in agreement that we need to deal with this problem immediately. I am requesting that you call a special meeting of the committee in June so committee members can discuss the issue and take appropriate action."
"There should be consequences for these actions," Drapala said.
Local party officials attended a state executive committee meeting this weekend and discussed the Oktibbeha County situation. A measure of support was proposed by the state-level board, but Democrats said the party should handle the situation locally before it jumped in the fray.
Rickey Cole, the state Democratic Party chairman, could attend a future local meeting in order to gauge the situation, Drapala said per a conversation with the party leader.
State Democratic Party bylaws say the seat of any executive committee member can be declared vacant by a two-thirds vote by present members if "it is brought to the attention of the committee that a committee member has publicly, actively or financially supported the candidacy of any person not running as a Democrat, except in non-partisan elections."
The bylaws also state no candidate shall be certified to run in a Democratic Primary for any office "who is not in accord with the principles and rules of the Democratic Party" and "who will not pledge support to the candidacy of all party nominees at all levels running in the same election for which nomination is being sought."
"No candidate, while holding elective office as a Democrat or as a Democratic Party officials shall be certified to run in a Democratic Primary for any office...who has within the preceding four years publicly or financially supported the election to office of any person not running as a Democrat," the bylaws state.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch