Monday, July 30, 2012

Who will lead the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People?

With the November election rapidly approaching, there’s no time to waste in preparing a strategy to assure success.  Both local and national teams are busy formulating a plan of attack.  Local candidates will reap the benefit of high turnout.  This is an important time for anyone interested in politics.
The looming election should be a matter of crave concern for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.  While its political committee should be preparing for an all out fall blitz, the group is forced to contend with the implications of Philip Cousin, the group’s chair, stepping down to return as a member of the Durham Board of County Commissioners.
Cousin emerged from the crowd of those who almost made it and those who wish they had come closer.  Cousin was chosen due to his ability to hit the ground running.  His past stay on the board was enough to sway those who remain to give him the nod versus Fred Foster, who they will run against in the fall.
Cousin and the board are a good fit.  The bad news is the domino effect it has on the leadership of the DCABP. His emergence on the Board of County Commissioners may force the DCABP to select a new chair.
“It has created an issue about leadership,” says Chuck Watts, vice-chair of DCABP’s political committee. “It is unfortunate because it occurs just as he was about to establish himself as the new leader.”
It’s not clear what will become of Cousin's role with the DCABP.  Cousin's desires a leave of absence while others contend he should step down due to his position on the Board of County Commissioners. Some don’t see it as a conflict of interest.
“I applaud Rev. Cousin ability to let the Committee work,” says Darius Little, a member of DCABP. “His being appointed to the Board of Commissioners has not changed his style of leadership.”
A group within the DCABP lobbied for Lavonia Allison to return.  If Cousin is forced to step down, Randal Rodgers is set to assume the role as chair.  Those supporting Allison’s return point to the upcoming election and the need for credible, proven leadership headed into one of the most important elections we have ever seen.
“She had her turn,” Watts says. “All agreed with her decision to move on.  Some thought that she should have moved on sooner.  I can’t imagine that there are many who believe that she should take the lead again.”
Most agree Allison lacks the votes to reemerge as leader of the DCABP. “She exited in a fashion by which she’d still have her hands on some things, which was predictable,” Little says.  As far as a comeback however, I don’t see the votes for such an occurrence.”
“The work of The Committee seems to be rolling along positively,” Little continues.  “Our Standing Committees are out on the ground running as never before. The Health Committee, led by Dr. Terry Morris, for example has formed coalitions and is hosting a Community Health Fair, which will include free screenings, free dental extractions/fillings, free mammograms, HIV checks, Sickle Cell Counseling, Free Barber Cuts. The Political Committee had an excellent fundraising year and has worked hard to incorporate previously alienated elements of the Black Community back into the fray of things.
It’s not clear what will happen to Cousin's role with the DCABP.  According to the group’s constitution, no elected official is allowed to serve as the DCABP chair.  It is a serious conflict of interest that many refuse to dismiss.  The squabble over who runs the DCABP may be a serious detraction from the matter at hand – winning the fall election.
Sometimes national politics is held in the hand of local politics.  Hopefully all that power will not be wasted on a question of who will lead the way.

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