BY JENNIFER CABRERA
ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – The Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee (ACDEC) continues to experience conflict over a rule that members cannot support a non-Democrat in a nonpartisan race if there is a Democrat in the race. In May, an email sent to members of the ACDEC explicitly supported Mayoral Candidate Ed Bielarski, resulting in calls for the resignation of the unknown person who sent the email.
At the time, Precinct Leader Ray Moorer told Alachua Chronicle that he sees the Democratic Party in a downward tailspin under the current “regressive” leadership and added, “The sad thing is, the so-called ‘Progressives’ (Regressives) have been so disrespectful to African Americans that they walked away in droves.” Moorer said that the loss in African American members in the ACDEC has resulted in one case in which a State Committeeman was elected who had only been in the Alachua County Democratic Party for 3 months and that he “sparsely attends monthly meetings… [Some] Harvey Ward ‘supporters’ have told Black people in ACDEC Meetings to ‘shut the hell up’ in front of the body. There is no order and respect in this Alachua County Democratic Party.”
In June, a formal grievance was filed against Horace Moore, another Precinct Leader, for sending a voicemail in which he allegedly said, “I think it is totally stupid for us to have to… support… people who do not know anything about running a utility and running the city into the ground… I’m going to support Bielarski, and they were crazy for firing him, one thing, and now they want to stop him from being the mayor.”
Now the ACDEC has suspended Ray Moorer, preventing him from attending the September, October, and November membership meetings. He was told it was done as an “emergency measure” and that it was possible that a grievance could be filed “in the new year.” However, people who aren’t even members of the ACDEC are permitted to attend meetings.
Moorer was told he was suspended from the ACDEC because he has publicly supported Ed Bielarski for Gainesville Mayor in Facebook posts from the page he maintains for his precinct. Moorer, however, doesn’t remember making the post that was provided to him as a blurry screenshot (shown below), and the post is no longer on his page; he says he hasn’t deleted anything on the page.
The evidence provided to justify Moorer’s suspension included an allegation that Moorer had made a “Black Jobs Matter” graphic for “non-Democratic candidate Ed Bielarski.” Moorer says he made the graphic, but he made it for a client who paid him for the design work.
Moorer also pointed out that he has not given money or an in-kind donation to Bielarski, and since he lives outside the city limits, he can’t even vote for him.
Moorer also showed Alachua Chronicle an email from ACDEC Chair Jay Maggio in which Maggio writes, “It is important to know that I did not bring this up at the Steering Committee meeting, and I was not allowed to vote on it. I have no stance on it,” but Maggio also sent Moorer the Steering Committee (SC) minutes, which state, “Chair Maggio brought to the attention of SC members that Precinct Committeeman (Pct 56) Ray Moorer has posted several times on social media support for Ed Bielarski (NPA), candidate for Gainesville Mayor. Additionally, Ray has publicly posted criticism of DEC members and leaders. Chair Maggio asked for approval of his decision to prevent Ray from attending GM and other meetings in Sep-Nov.”
Moorer suspects that he was targeted because as Vice Chair of the Political Committee of the Suwannee St Johns Group of the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club, he was instrumental in blocking the group’s endorsement of Harvey Ward (the Sierra Club made no endorsement in the mayoral race).
Armando Grundy-Gomez told Alachua Chronicle, “This local DEC is treating African Americans very poorly.” Grundy-Gomez said there was a similar problem with the Black Caucus of the Florida Democratic Party about 10 years ago and that as a member of the Black Caucus (but not the ACDEC), he is planning on filing a grievance to support Moorer. Grundy-Gomez said he is not a member of the ACDEC but is able to attend meetings.
Moorer says his due process rights have been violated by the emergency suspension; the normal process for suspending a member would involve the filing of a grievance and a hearing, but he has been denied those steps. He says he hasn’t been told why the current situation is an “emergency.”
Moorer says he will be filing a lawsuit against Jay Maggio, ACDEC Vice Chair Iris Burke, and the Steering Committee and Membership Committee of the ACDEC, asking a judge for a Writ of Mandamus and emergency injunctive relief against the suspension.
Graphics provided by Ray Moorer