Former director challenges NAACP election Stansbury defeated Creek for second time

November 24, 1996|By Jennifer Langston | Jennifer Langston,CONTRIBUTING WRITER GtA

For the second time, Gerald Stansbury has defeated Jean Creek in the race for director of the Anne Arundel branch of the NAACP, and for the second time, she has vowed to contest the election.

Stansbury won by a vote of 209 to 142 Thursday night.

Creek, who held the post for 18 years before Stansbury defeated her last year, said Friday she plans to file a complaint with the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

She said she received phone calls from new members who were confused about voting procedure in the latest election.

Stansbury said their membership was given plenty of notice. "I think all sections of the county were represented and that the vote was an acceptance of my vision. The county is ready to move forward," he said.

In November 1994, Creek won an election to head the local chapter of the civil rights organization, but Stansbury successfully challenged that vote. He won a second election, which was challenged by Creek but ruled legitimate by the national NAACP.

Low voter turnout Thursday -- about 350 out of 1,400 members -- may reflect the protracted and publicized battle between Stansbury and Creek, NAACP officials said.

"I think it's the very fact that we've had so much controversy. They just didn't want to be a part of it. Some people just don't want to take sides anymore," said Eliza Smith, chairwoman of the Election Supervisory Committee.

It took eight months and an Anne Arundel Circuit Court decision to settle the first battle between Stansbury and Creek.

Creek said there were problems with the latest election as well. She said she enrolled more than 500 members, who had not been issued membership cards by the national office. But a letter stating that members needed to show identification at the voting booths at Bates Middle School led some of her supporters to think they would be turned away, she said.

"It put a lot of people at a disadvantage. It was not a misunderstanding. It was an outright error," Creek said.

Smith said the election did not violate any rules and that the letter was carefully worded to avoid confusion.

"If there is a challenge, it would be a frivolous challenge. There were absolutely no problems with the elections. Mrs. Creek is a fighter. She's never been a person who can lose easily. It's something she will have to learn," Smith said.

The national NAACP office in Baltimore will investigate if a complaint is filed within 10 days. A final ruling could take months, Smith said.

Many NAACP supporters fear another drawn-out election challenge will divert attention from the real work of the organization.

"It's very important that the NAACP get back to its historic role, and that is being in the forefront of battling anti-Semitism, sexism, racism and bigotry and not each other," said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, a Ward 5 Democrat.

Lewis Bracy, communications director for the Maryland Forum of African American Leaders, said the low voter turnout should prompt NAACP leaders to become more active in the community to raise the organization's profile.

"As a supporter of the NAACP, it is my hope that with Gerald's election, he will be more forceful and be more involved in some of the major issues affecting Anne Arundel County," Bracy said.

Stansbury said he will meet in January with his new executive committee to plan the organization's direction. He cited education, economic empowerment and discrimination as the main issues he plans to address.

But Creek was not ready to give up the fight. She contended that a fair election is vital to maintaining the NAACP's reputation.

"The NAACP, of all organizations, should be held to a standard. If any other organization had done this, we would be screaming bloody murder," she said.

But Snowden thought the national office would quickly dispense with Creek's complaint.

"The voters in the NAACP have spoken. A new day will have begun. The organization will move forward," he said.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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