Anne Arundel's NAACP branch to begin `Operation Big Vote' registration drive

Blacks underrepresented, group's president says

February 14, 1999|By TOM PELTON | TOM PELTON,SUN STAFF

The Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is launching a voter registration drive and campaigning to win positions for more African-Americans in county government.

Gerald Stansbury, local president of the civil rights organization, said in a news release Friday that "Operation Big Vote" will be detailed during a news conference at 1 p.m. Monday at Asbury United Methodist Church, 87 West St., in Annapolis.

"Although African-Americans voted in record numbers in November, they are still underrepresented in local government," Stansbury said. "Black voters were largely responsible for the gains that Democrats made in the county, but there has yet to be a single African-American named to a Cabinet post by the new county executive."

County Executive Janet S. Owens' spokesman, Andrew C. Carpenter, said Stansbury is wrong about Owens' appointments -- even if his drive to increase opportunities for blacks in local government is laudable.

Carpenter said that Owens' first appointment was Carl O. Snowden, a black former alderman from Annapolis whom Owens named special assistant to handle legislative matters.

"The fact that he [Stansbury] is incorrect about this single situation, however, shouldn't invalidate Mr. Stansbury's more general concerns. Mrs. Owens shares these concerns about ensuring that African-Americans have access to opportunities in the county."

Owens has appointed seven people to her Cabinet, one of whom is black. This 14 percent ratio matches the percentage of the county that is African-American.

Historically, the county has had very few black elected officials. Former County Executive John G. Gary had one high-level African-American official, Adrian Wiseman, the county's human relations officer, who has retained his position in the Owens administration.

The last African-American County Councilwoman was Sarah Carter, who served in the 1970s.

Operation Big Vote is being co-sponsored by the United Black Clergy of Anne Arundel County, the local chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Anne Arundel County Peace Action and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Committee.

Pub Date: 2/14/99

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