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VOL. 131 | NO. 169 | Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Democrats Seeking New Faces in 'Reboot'

By Bill Dries

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The political vacuum in the absence of a Shelby County Democratic Party didn’t last long at all.

Young Democrats leaders Alvin Crook and London Lamar say they want to see new faces and more diversity in the coming reorganization of the Shelby County Democratic Party after the state party decertified the party’s executive committee last week.

(Daily News/Bill Dries)

Following the Friday announcement from Nashville that the local party has been decertified, the Shelby County Young Democrats organization was calling Monday, Aug. 22, for younger Democrats to step up.

“We are demanding that young people are active participants in the rebuilding process,” said London Lamar of Memphis, president of the Tennessee Young Democrats, which has a chapter in Memphis. “My primary goal is to make sure that young Democrats … have the ability to sit at the table in the process of rebuilding the organization.”

Shelby County Young Democrats chairman Alvin Crook said efforts to elect Democratic candidates in the November state and federal general elections continue without interruption.

“There is still good leadership when it comes to Democrats,” Crook said. “We are not going to lose any steam. … We are going to continue to help great Democrats get elected.”

The Young Democrats and Democratic Women of Shelby County are the only two local groups affiliated with the Tennessee Democratic Party pending a reorganization of the party in Shelby County.

Both groups have been an energetic, if quieter presence as the local party’s executive committee has descended into a level of dysfunction that has made even taking a vote on resolutions and approving minutes of meetings difficult.

State party chairwoman Mary Mancini announced Friday her decision to decertify the local party and its executive committee effective immediately.

Some in the local party had urged Mancini to take the action after months of dysfunction. A low point was the local party’s decision to pursue a warrant accusing former chairman Bryan Carson of embezzling money from the party. Carson, who is now on the state party’s executive committee, denies any wrongdoing.

Mancini ordered local party chairman Michael Pope to stop the warrant and settle the matter, with Carson paying $6,000 over several years.

Pope did that and Carson has started making the payments. But the executive committee did not ratify the decision, and voted down a motion to censure Pope for enacting the settlement.

Mancini didn’t give a specific reason for her action. But she did talk about new leadership for the local party.

Lamar agrees with that call.

“We want to see a diversity of race, age and issue-based initiatives in the Democratic Party,” she said. “We think that the Democratic Party needs fresh faces and the Democratic Party should look more representative of Shelby County.”

Shelby County Commissioner Reginald Milton is a former member of the local party’s executive committee.

Milton said the executive committee isn’t the only force behind efforts by Democrats to elect their candidates to office.

“Democrats as a whole – we are a big tent,” Milton said. “This is a reboot of the Shelby County Democratic Party. We will be back in no time at all. Understand that we are all still very active and the Democratic Party is as strong as ever.”

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