Baltimore County NAACP voting delayed

Judge to hold hearing on election dispute

May 01, 1999|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County Circuit judge has postponed the county's NAACP elections from Tuesday to decide if the branch president was wrongly removed from office.

Judge J. William Hinkel said Thursday that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People could not bar the branch president, Patricia Cook-Ferguson, from participating in the election.

The judge postponed the election for 10 days until evidence can be presented in court. A hearing is expected late next week.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in The Sun about the new president of the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP incorrectly stated how former branch President Patricia Cook-Ferguson left office. While in office, she was banned from running for re-election after national officials ruled that she had not been a dues-paying member since 1997. The Sun regrets the errors.

The move comes after Cook-Ferguson disputed a March decision by the NAACP national office saying she was not a dues-paying member. She was elected by an overwhelming margin in November, but national officials ordered a new election after complaints surfaced that she was not a member.

Though national NAACP officials, based in Baltimore, said their decision was final, Cook-Ferguson said in March that the case was not closed.

Yesterday, her lawyer, Jeffrey J. Plum, said she is "disappointed in the manner in which she has been treated thus far" but expects the issue to be resolved next week.

Cook-Ferguson has a canceled check for dues, a deposit receipt for the dues and a branch roster with her name on it that proves she has been a member for years, Plum said.

Bernetha George, whose complaints prompted the investigation, maintained that Cook-Ferguson was not a member of the organization when she ran for office. Her accusations came after she reviewed documents from the national office that she claims indicated Cook-Ferguson was not a member.

"She's certainly entitled to her legal rights and her claims," said George, who ran against Cook-Ferguson. "This is in keeping with her attitude about the NAACP and her desire to remain in office. She will do whatever is necessary."

NAACP lawyers would not comment on the case yesterday because it is unresolved, said John C. White, a spokesman for the organization.

The case appears to be one of the first in which a local NAACP election dispute has landed in court, Plum said. In 1996, a youth member of the Baltimore branch fought a decision by the NAACP national office that said youth members could not vote in elections. He lost.

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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