- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

The D.C. Democratic State Committee has voted to throw out a “bogus election” that installed the leadership of the Ward 5 Democrats.

The party membership determined the election was held without notification and against the party’s rules.

“The vote was 45-6, so you know how upset DCDSC members felt about this travesty of justice, this bogus election,” said Kathryn Pearson-West, at-large party member.

A report by the Elections Review Committee cited several violations, including improper election practices, lack of notification that the election would take place, and a violation of the bylaws. The report also faulted the nominating committee for not producing a proper presentation of the candidates.

Some Democrats have blamed D.C. Council member Vincent Orange, Ward 5 Democrat, for the debacle because he certified the vote and installed the new officers.

“I am a strong supporter of Vincent Orange, but I couldn’t allow this to happen on my watch,” Mrs. Pearson-West said.

Mr. Orange said any accusations made against him were baseless and that he, too, had objected to the process.

At-large member Harry Thomas Jr. said the June 23 election was held “without notification to anyone” and while he vacationed in California. He said no election business was supposed to be conducted at that meeting.

Mr. Thomas, who ran for council against Mr. Orange last year, said he plans to make a bid for Ward 5 Democratic chairman and had informed the incumbent, Franklin Wilds, in April.

“The nominating committee was supposed to present the candidates in May, but didn’t give a report,” Mr. Thomas said.

“First of all, the meeting in May fell on Memorial Day; that’s why the nominating committee didn’t give a presentation,” Mr. Orange said.

He said he and Democratic Party Chairman A. Scott Bolden arrived at the June meeting to find that members had set an election date for July — when the council would not be in session and he would be away on official business.

“We were supposed to have nominations that night and hold the election in September,” Mr. Orange said.

During a heated exchange and some confusion about the by-laws, ex-officio committee member Ron Magnus suggested that since there were no contested offices, the election should be held then and there.

“That vote carried, and I had no choice but to swear the officers in, as the highest-ranking Democrat from the ward,” Mr. Orange said.

Mr. Thomas and Mrs. Pearson-West immediately filed a protest.

After weeks of mudslinging on both sides, Mr. Bolden, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, established the review panel. When that didn’t ease the situation, he brought the matter up for vote before the entire party.

The Election Review Committee found there was no collusion between Mr. Orange, Mr. Magnus or any of the members present to influence the vote. The elections will now be held in the fall, but the Ward 5 Democrats have not set an official date.

Mr. Thomas said he bears no ill will toward anyone, “but the election was held without notification, and that is unfair.”

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