The Anne Arundel director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People yesterday hotly criticized the man vying to become the group's new president, calling him a pawn of the city's leading black politician.
Jean Creek, who has led the Anne Arundel chapter for the past 18 years, rebutted charges made last week by her challenger, Gerald Stansbury, and fired a few shots of her own.
Mr. Stansbury had accused Ms. Creek of mismanaging and poorly reporting NAACP funds.
Ms. Creek, whose leadership has gone largely unchallenged for nine terms, is trying to discredit Mr. Stansbury and his running mate Larry Johnson, calling them outsid
ers and opportunists who "are attempting to use the NAACP for their own political purposes."
"Neither of the two has a record of service in the branch," Ms. Creek said during yesterday's news conference.
The chapter, whose ranks number at least 400, will elect its president and 24 board members in the Nov. 16 election.
Ms. Creek contends Mr. Stansbury has attended only three NAACP meetings in 17 years and is more interested in racking up endorsements by powerful city Democrats. She called him a "puppet" of Carl O. Snowden, a Democrat on the City Council.
"Carl Snowden has a knack for collecting puppets," Ms. Creek said. "And I think Gerald Stansbury is one of his puppets."
Mr. Snowden dismissed that claim as "ludicrous." Mr. Stansbury called it a distraction from the issues at hand: the future of the NAACP.
"People want a change in leadership and basically that's what the issue is," he said.
But, he added, the chapter should not ignore local government if it hopes to shape policy.
"We have to focus on this issue: we haven't done anything to rebuild the network of the chapter in government," he said.
Last week, Mr. Stansbury said the local NAACP chapter does not regularly report its funds and fails to reach out to poor people in the community.
Critics say the local branch faces the same loss of membership and influence that is troubling the national organization.
Mr. Stansbury says he can help the group find its niche, and accuses Ms. Creek of sealing the group off from the community and leaving it impotent.
"She has alienated herself to the point where people are not speaking to her," he said.
Ms. Creek said that any NAACP member with doubts about the branch's bookkeeping should survey the records firsthand.
She also accused Mr. Johnson of trying to use the NAACP as a springboard to further his political ambitions. Mr. Johnson recently lost his bid to become the District 30 Democratic candidate in the House of Delegates. He denied Ms. Creek's accusation.