Our elders talk about the Ward Chairmen back in the day such as Doc Fielder, Bubby Hairston, Zach Winston, and later Bea Mahaffey. How they welded power, and forced the White folks Downtown to listen and take notes when they spoke. How they took care of their communities. Well that was the past because in today’s politics who knows who their Ward Chair is let alone who their committeeman or committeewoman is.
With major elections coming up for the mayor, city council and the school board, you would think the Ward Chairmen would be out making sure the people who voted them into office are fairly represented. But that has not been the case the past few years.
For example, in the Hill District and lower North Side Daniel Lavelle won the last election by a landslide so you would think he would be a shoe in for the endorsement by the Party committee people for this election since he’s running against the same opponent he slaughtered. Well he lost the endorsement for the second time to the same woman he soundly beat in the previous election, Tonya Payne. What made the win so impressive is that she was the sitting Councilwoman at the time.
Now he has to go out and spend his own money to get petitions to run, which the Party will challenge to try to force him off the ticket, which would mean the person who the people voted into office, could possibly be taken off the ballot, thus not giving the people a real choice.
When she was the sitting city councilwoman the Party should have endorsed her. But they not only endorsed her after she was defeated soundly by Lavelle, but in between, they endorsed her run against a sitting state representative, Jake Wheatley. Once again the people let it be known that they didn’t want Tonya Payne as their state rep, or as their city councilwoman. Yet in the most recent endorsement once again the Democratic Party, through its committee system voted 45 to 37 for Payne over Lavelle.
This makes a very clear statement to me and the general voting public throughout the city and especially in the Hill District, Downtown, and the lower North Side, that the Democratic Party doesn’t give a damn about the voters in these areas. What the people want is not important. They have spoken twice loud and clear yet the Democratic Party keeps endorsing Payne. Something desperately needs to be done to change this system.
It should make us all ask. Who are the Ward Chairs throughout the city? Who are the committee people? What are their responsibilities? Should this system be totally eliminated and replaced with a simple election in which the people chose who they want to represent them?