Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I asked for it, and here it is.

I had asked, in the interest of fairness, that the Van Turner campaign put a piece up here. While they have not officially given permission for me to put this up, since I received this directly from him, I am presuming that it's ok to put up this statement on why he is running.

Once again, this does NOT reflect an endorsement of either candidate, this is about fairness of the process.

Fellow Shelby County Democrats,

As we are only two weeks away from the Biennial Convention which we elect new Executive Members and a new Chairman, the tone of this race and the conversation that we are having has unfortunately become destructive and divisive. However, as I have vowed to do from early on, I will continue to move forward with a positive, reaffirming message. If we are to truly move this Party forward, we must unify, and we must focus on the real issues that are facing this Party and this community as we near several county election races next year.

A Record of Community Involvement

My commitment and involvement in this community has not always been televised. Instead, I have tirelessly worked in this community without fanfare. Since moving home to Memphis, I have worked with the NAACP Legal Redress Committee in every major election since 2002. I have headed such initiatives as voter restoration, voter protection, and voter education drives. I presently serve on the executive board of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP. In fact, as President of the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association, I assisted in organizing a team of attorneys to specifically support a nationwide voter restoration effort. We, in particular, focused on African-American males who were seeking to retain their voting rights in time to vote in this past year's historic Presidential Election. Fortunately, we were successful in assisting hundreds of applicants, who had made past mistakes and paid their debts to society, cast their votes for President Barack Obama.

As an officer of the Memphis Chapter of the Morehouse Alumni Association, we offered approximately twenty (20) students at Hamilton High School a free, six week Princeton Review tutorial workshop to assist them with improving their ACT scores. Several of the young men who attended the workshop actually decided to attend Morehouse College, the only all male Historically Black College in the world. Also, under our leadership, the local Alumni Association has partnered with the historic New Olivet Missionary Baptist Church to present the "Candle on the Bluff" Celebration and Awards to shine the spotlight on many local advocates and pioneers in this community, including this year's awardees, Congressman Steve Cohen, Pastor Keith Norman and Art Gilliam.

As in-house counsel for the Memphis City Schools, I worked with the Memphis Education Association and other concerned citizens in this community to fight for funding for our children when City Council voted to pull funding for this past school year. I advocated for fully funding public education to City Council and to other elected officials in our community. This matter is now on appeal, but this is just an example of how I will stand firm for what I believe and what I know is right when there are strong interests on both sides of an issue.

I have also worked with several state representatives and community activists to assist with issues surrounding the National Civil Rights Museum. Again, this was and still is a debate in which they are strong views and dedicated interests on both sides of the issue. I, again, took a stance for what I felt was right and good for this community. When issues are presented to me as Chair, I will hear everyone, but when my decision is made, I will stand solidly behind that decision.

The Duties of the Chairman

The Shelby County Democratic Party's Bylaws state: "The Chairperson shall preside over the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee. He or she shall be the official representative of the Democratic Party at political functions in the County." The correct question is will the Chair of the Party listen to every concern within the Party and will he support the Democratic candidate for office regardless of whether they are union, management, homosexual, heterosexual, a defense attorney, a plaintiff's attorney, a political veteran or a new face in politics? It is not the Chairperson's role to take-up each and every cause which these candidates support or do not support. My duties as Chair will be to make sure that these candidates are elected to office with the support and backing of the Party.

Furthermore, to be absolutely clear, where I work no more defines me than it does my opponent, who has a practice which touches various areas of the law, including criminal law. My practice areas primarily include Administrative Law, Education Law and Governmental Litigation. Further, in one of the cases referenced, Moore v. Toys-R-Us Delaware, Inc., U.S.D.C., W.D. Tenn., No. 04-2416 BA, I actually represented the Plaintiff. The misinformation that is being spread is a red herring. Again, the conversation that we need to have is who is in a better position to listen to every Democrat and to unify the Party. Butler Show has dedicated countless hours of pro bono work to this community and in fact, represented minority farmers in their organized grassroots efforts for years in litigation against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As the son of a father and mother who are life-long members of the teacher's union and as the husband of a card-carrying member of the Memphis Education Association, I appreciate and support the labor movement and as Chairman of the Party, will support labor as it seeks to improve the lives of its members by running pro-union candidates for office.

A Unified Party- A Meaningful Voice

As we embark upon these final two weeks of this campaign for Chairmanship of the Party, let us not focus on non-issues and mudslinging. We, as a Democratic Party, have come so far to go backwards now. There is no need to turn to personal attacks on me or my supporters. This is not in the spirit of unifying the Party. The race for Chairmanship of the Shelby County Democratic Committee is not about "control," as far as I am concerned. It is about helping move the Party and the Party's candidates forward. It's about taking back the Tennessee State legislature before matters get worse in Nashville. It's about increased fundraising efforts so that we can adequately support progressive candidates for office. It's about gaining respect for a Party which needs to be a change agent in this community. The Party needs unity and responsible leadership. Leadership that will enable the Party and the Party's members and interests to take meaningful stands on local, state and national political issues. I will deal with Party members and local politicians in a forthright and above-board manner. There will be no backroom deals or cover-ups. The party belongs to its members and the people who support Democratic causes and values. They expect and deserve responsible, effective and dedicated leadership, the kind that I will give as the next Chairman of the Party. Therefore, I ask all of the Delegates returning on March 28th for the Convention to vote for my slate of Executive Committee members who will cast their vote for me as Chair of the Party.


captainkona said...

"unifying the Party"

My eyes are giving me some problems today, Steve. So unless I missed it while trying to read, has Turner indicated in what manner he feels the "party is divided"?

In order to unify a party must first be divided. Perhaps you could ask him to identify the respective divisions.
Unless he's just using "unity" as a buzz word of course.

L&R, bro'!

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lilaruby said...

seems pretty obvious, the divide is between progressives and political hacks

Anonymous said...