NAACP calls Hattiesburg City Council election ‘racist and unfair’

Published 6:39 pm Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Forrest County Branch of the NAACP has alleged that a vote to elect a Republican president of the Hattiesburg City Council and pass over council member Deborah Denard Delgado was racist and unfair.

Delgado had been vice president of the council for the past three years. Delgado is black.

Republican councilman Kim Bradley was elected president of the council on a 4-1 vote Tuesday. Republican Councilman Dave Ware was elected vice president, a post held by Delgado for the past three years.

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NAACP chapter President Clarence Magee told the council he was appalled that Delgado was passed over.

“We prayed ’07 would be better than ’06, but we believe you set a bad precedent,” Magee said.

Councilman Henry Naylor, a black Democrat, voted with the majority. Delgado voted “no” on both nominations.

Naylor said he would have nominated and voted in favor of Delgado if she had wanted him to do that. Because she did not, Naylor said he supported the only candidates who were nominated.

The outgoing council president, Republican Carter Carroll, said he doesn’t believe the vote was at all racially motivated.

“Deborah is an outspoken champion for Ward 2, but the same qualities that make her a fabulous representative for Ward 2 are the same qualities that may not make her the best council president,” he said.

The council president presides over the council meetings and represents the group at many official functions.

Delgado, who did not dismiss racism as a possible factor, also acknowledged politics as a reason she believes she was passed over.

“I really believe it is a partisan thing,” Delgado said. “I think my three Republican colleagues could have some hard times ahead (from other members of the Republican Party) if they had voted for me. I just think they did the wrong thing.”

As to the allegations of racism, “It is what it is,” Delgado said.