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NAACP spars with Leading for our Future PAC over quotes used in single-member district campaign

Evelyn Foxx speaks at the NAACP Press Conference

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – This election cycle has featured a great deal of controversy over mailers, but one particular mailer has attracted more attention than the rest, with the Alachua County Branch NAACP holding a press conference to counter its message and then sending a cease-and-desist letter from the national organization to Stafford Jones, who chairs the Political Action Committee (PAC) that funded the mailers.

The mailer in question, shown below, supports the Single-Member District Charter Amendment, which is on the November 8 ballot and would change elections for Alachua County Commissioners in the future; currently, all voters in the county can vote for all five commissioners (at-large), but if the ballot initiative passes, commissioners will be elected only by voters who live in their district (single-member).

The mailer uses a quote from the national NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund website: “Discriminatory methods of election, like at-large voting, enhance the discrimination that communities of color experience.” The quote is placed next to the NAACP logo.

County Commissioner Ken Cornell and the Alachua County Branch NAACP held a press conference recently, and Cornell said, “the issue that has now risen to the top of everybody’s mind… is the dark money that the Tallahassee Republicans are bringing into Alachua County, to try to mislead voters.” Cornell added, “So we could either have this brand of politics, where dark money is brought into Alachua County, or we can have representative government. We can’t have both.”

The national NAACP has joined the dispute, as the Office of the General Counsel of the NAACP sent a letter to Stafford Jones, Chair of the PAC that funded the mailers, stating that the mailers create “the false impression that NAACP and the Alachua County Branch NAACP currently support voting yes on single member districts in the City of Gainesville.” (Contrary to this statement, the ballot initiative is for Alachua County, not the City of Gainesville, which currently has a mix of single-member and at-large districts; the Alachua County Branch NAACP was instrumental in passing single-member districts in the City in the late 1980s.)

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The NAACP letter goes on to demand that Jones, the Leading for our Future PAC, and the campaign “immediately cease and desist from using the NAACP’s name, logo and quotes in your political campaign materials,” stating that the NAACP “will pursue all legal options and remedies to protect its interests” if Jones persists in using the materials.

Yesterday, Benjamin Gibson, who represents Leading for our Future PAC, responded to the NAACP and wrote, “At the outset, we cannot help noticing one glaring omission from your letter: There is no denial that the quotation our client uses and attributes to your organization is true. That’s because it is.”

The letter refers to an FAQ page at the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF) site that includes the quote used on the mailer: “Fewer and fewer districts still practice at-large voting. That is because courts and other decision-makers long have recognized that discriminatory methods of election, like at-large voting, enhance the discrimination that communities of color experience because of socioeconomic and other disparities in life opportunities between Black and white communities.”

That site also states, “At-large methods of election are often discriminatory because they,
in combination with racially polarized voting, prevent voters of color from electing their candidates of choice where they are not the majority in the jurisdiction” and “Although at-large voting is becoming rarer and rarer, in part due to the advocacy of LDF and other civil rights organizations, such discriminatory election systems remain in some places in our democracy.”

The letter from Jones’ attorney goes on to point out that the mailer does not state that the NAACP or Alachua County Branch NAACP support the Alachua County referendum: “What it does state and represent is your organization’s long-standing opposition to at-large voting and support for single-district voting. This is emphatically true.”

The letter also links to a resolution passed by the NAACP in 2018 titled, “Make the Right to Vote a Fundamental Right,” that states in part, “It would be difficult to argue that at-large districts serve a compelling state interest when single member districts allow minority groups a greater chance to choose a candidate of their choice…”

The letter concludes, “Our client understands your organization’s long-standing support for single-member districts may now differ from its desired political outcome in Alachua County, and therefore, may not be something you would want voters in Alachua County to be aware of… Even so… Leading for our Future PAC legally has a right to reproduce truthful and accurate information as part of undertaking lawful campaigns in support of its positions.”

In a recent interview with TV20 (second video on the page), Evelyn Foxx, Chair of the Alachua County NAACP, said, “In the state of Florida, there are 41 counties that support at-large, and the others support single-member. It all depends on the make-up and the culture of a county.” The reporter goes on to say, “Foxx says previous support for single-member districts was to give minorities a better chance at getting elected, but now that it could raise the chance of getting Republicans elected, Foxx is against the initiative.”

According to the Florida Association of Counties, 41 Florida counties have at-large districts, 19 have single-member districts, and 7 have a mix of single-member and at-large commissioners.

The NAACP has now launched its own campaign, placing signs around Gainesville advising voters to “VOTE NO For single member districts.” The signs state that they are paid for and approved by the Alachua County Branch NAACP.

    • And yet it will fail because of this campaign. Stafford Jones must be working for the liberals in Alachua county because that is the only explanation.

      • You are giving Stafford way too much credit. He can’t bark without permission and money from Clemons and Perry. He’s a useful jester.

        • So that explains the continued servitude of most East Gainesville voters to the current city and county leaders.

          Thanks for reinforcing what many of us have known. You may want to be “strong” and break free of those shackles yourself.

  • What else would you expect?

    If they aren’t shooting, I mean sparring, at one another, they need to find someone/something else to vent their anger. Just think, if they could direct some of that effort towards preventing unnecessary pregnancies and shootings how much more productive some could be. Amusing Cornell jumped on that wagon. He knows the only chance he has of getting reelected is making them feel he cares. He’s as fake as a $3 bill. Words of wisdom, if you happen to work a function he’s attending – don’t expect to engage him in conversation. Just get his drinks and leave him alone.

    That’s ’bout all needs to be said ’bout that.

  • They want to keep their plantation masters – sad. Empower yourselves and your own neighborhoods.

    • You know why they don’t bring up reparations anymore? They know it’ll push more Latinos and Asians into GOP arms. Fact.

  • remember the Demorats in Washington want to do away with the Electoral college. Communist love mob rule!

      • Actually Republicans want to phase out Social Security.. those that are on it will stay on it, those that have paid into it but are to yound to collect will be allowed to take a tax credit for what they have paid in or can opt to stay in and those that haven’t paid in will be able to invest their money in the many private retirement options that were not around when Social Security was created. With all the retirement options available today, why do we need the federal government forcibly taking that money and having the power to hold it over us as a weapon?

  • The mailer is factual and accurate…all that face mask wearing by Rodney, Ken, Evelyn, & the NAACP must have deprived their brains of oxygen.

  • Gotta love the overt racism leaking out via the comments. Chuck are you happy being the puppet master for these deplorables?

    • Well Emmit, you apparently have managed to discover the puppetmaster for some of us. Are you willing to admit who’s pulling Biden’s strings?

  • Looking at the photo: Is that the wicked witch of the east standing next to fat Harvey in that NAACP photo op? Halloween is over.
    Did Evelyn culturally appropriate her hairdo from Bozo?

    • I thought bail bondsmen made good money getting criminals out of jail…Rodney looks like a real hood rat with that thug hat, T-shirt and that suit that doesn’t fit him right…those don’t look like his pants…maybe their his son’s pants.

  • The letter from Jones’ attorney quotes the NAACP as opposing SMDs while referring to the Federal Voting Rights Act. The VRA seeks to eliminate discrimination against protected minorities like people of color. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS NOT A DISCRIMINATED-AGAINST MINORITY GROUP. This lawyer is quoting a law that does not apply.

  • Now single member districts are racist like small airplane seats…
    These people have mental issues.

    • We need to make district 1 in GNV
      At large now because single member districts are bad…thanks for enlightening me Rodney!

  • We still have not addressed the temporary students of UF that votes in our local elections they should not vote in our local elections

  • Another dastardly ad is the Clemons ad that has a photoshopped picture of Brandon Peters shaking hands with Joe Biden. I’m disgusted at all political ads and mailers I’ve seen.

  • The campaign in favor of SMD is a disgrace. This is an important issue and deserves a serious campaign not this moronic dribble. Just pathetic.

  • The biggest tragedy after MLK passed is how his legacy was hijacked by urban elites who gave us what we see today. Nuff said.

  • I received a paid political ad in the mail from a “Social Justice PAC.” I do not know who they are or the source of their money but it does not matter. The ad features Rodney Long and Chuck Chestnut with quotes implying they support voting yes on the single member ballot issue in Alachua County. The ad claims that SMDs will “end racism” and promote “racial equality.”
    .
    The ad ignores some inconvenient facts. Alachua County has had at large commission elections for at least 45 years. The population of Alachua County is 20% black. There has been at least one black county commissioner continuously for the past 45 years. One out of five commission seats is 20% of the commission. Blacks have had perfect representation under the current at large voting system for 45 years.. There has been no discrimination, no lack of representation, no lack of racial equality on the county commission for 45 years. So why make a change?
    .
    The real goal of the SMD movement is to gerrymander a rural Republican district. Currently with at large voting a black commission candidate can live in any district and has an equal chance of being elected to the commission. If one seat is reserved for a white rural Republican, a black candidate must live in one of the other four districts to have a chance of getting elected. In my opinion, it may be harder for a black to get elected if single member districts passes. This is going backwards on “racial equality.”
    .
    The claims of “lack of racial equality” under at large voting by Social Justice PAC, whoever they are, are, in my rural district known as “stuff what comes out the north end of a southbound bull.”

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