Local Democrats to discuss party fallout

June 13, 2013 10:29:55 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


Oktibbeha County Democratic Party Chairman Chris Taylor confirmed a special executive committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 25 at the county courthouse to discuss one member's alleged support of Republican candidate Dan Moreland in the Starkville mayoral race. 


Photos emerged on social media last month linking three Democratic aldermen-elects - Roy A. Perkins, Henry Vaughn and Lisa Wynn - and executive committee member Dorothy Isaac to a May 29 Moreland fund-raiser. A second photo also showed Elzena Neal, the wife of executive committee member Kennedy Neal, at the same event. 


Outrage built within the party before the June 4 election as members learned of the Democrats' attendance. Executive committee meetings, held on the fourth Tuesday of every month, were canceled through August until member Patti Drapala successfully petitioned Taylor last week to ask for a special meeting to discuss "the action of individual committee members taken during the unfolding of the recent municipal election." 


Taylor said Wednesday the committee is not seeking any disciplinary action against the three aldermen, but party bylaws would allow members to potentially remove Isaac from the executive committee. 


In a letter to an executive committee member, Moreland confirmed he invited the three aldermen-elects to the May 29 fund-raiser, which featured Gov. Phil Bryant, "because in their duties they will be tasked with working with our statewide elected officials." 


However, the incoming board's only other elected Democrat, Ward 4's Jason Walker, said he was not invited to the Moreland fund-raiser. 


Moreland also said in the letter that Perkins, Vaughn and Wynn never gave any donation to his campaign, were asked for donations, endorsed his run for Starkville's highest office nor were asked for their support. 


"As we compete with other cities throughout the state for economic development opportunities, I feel it is important that our aldermen get to know the governor and form a good working relationship with him and other statewide leaders in order to stay competitive," Moreland's letter stated. "If at any point in time I can help form that type of relationship with our city leaders, regardless of party, I will do everything I can to make that happen." 


The GOP mayoral candidate only addressed concerns with the three aldermen and did not mention Isaac. 


Drapala's notice of the special meeting said an invitation will be extended to Rickey Cole, Mississippi Democratic Party chairman. Cole previously told the Dispatch he was open to attending local meetings as the party hashed out its differences.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch