Letter to the Editor: Chester’s Democrat are united, despite split with Linder

To the Times:

As the chairwoman of the Chester City Democratic Committee, I am writing in response to the recent allegations of division amongst our party, allegations that are false and without merit. Although Mayor John Linder has opted to go in a different direction, his choice has no bearing on our party’s structure or strength. Currently, we have over 250 vested members who are committed to carrying out our mission. Our party is stronger than it has ever been and we stand united and ready to lead and govern.


That’s why I have taken this opportunity to put things into context. For the record, four years ago we put together a team of individuals (including John Linder) who were charged with changing the climate of Chester city government, a team who were to exact the wrongs of the former Republican administration.


This team made promises to voters to represent their best interests, to lead with transparency, to be accountable and to improve the overall conditions of the city of Chester both physically and fiscally. Once in office, all but Mayor Linder pulled together to carry out these tasks. And, only four months after taking office Mayor Linder decided that he no longer wished to be a part of our team (one would think he used us). He ceased his participation in local, county and state Democratic efforts and became seemingly beholden to several local Republican Party members.


In fact, Mayor Linder’s decision to demote and replace the former police chief resulted in both public unrest and substantial financial loss to the city. Subsequent decisions arbitrarily made by the mayor where also unsupported by council and the party in which he has chosen to abandon - the very same party that worked tirelessly to get him elected.


So you see, it was John who aborted our mission, all while playing the role of the victim.


To add insult to injury, Mayor Linder went out and scouted a new team of folks to run with him in the upcoming election, a team who would tolerate his autocratic sense of leadership and work to push forward his own selfish agenda. And that was just fine with us!


With crime in Chester continuing to rise and the public’s constant plea for accountability and action going unanswered by Mayor Linder, our party asked state Representative Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, to run for Chester City mayor and he humbly accepted. Thus, we are excited to have a mayoral candidate who understands that governing this city calls for democracy, not dictatorship.


Rep. Kirkland will be joining the endorsed incumbents Councilman Nafis Nichols, Councilwoman Elizabeth “Liz” Williams and Controller Edith Blackwell on the ticket in the May primary. We believe that this is the team that will be “about the people’s business,” and keep our vision alive.


For the past 30 years the Chester City Democratic Committee has fought tirelessly on the behalf of our people — people who had been oppressed, ostracized and overlooked by those who once controlled the local political system. Those same made it clear four years ago, when they elected for full Democratic leadership that they no longer wanted to be in bondage. They had and continue to have great expectation of us and we owe it to them to finish the fight.


Therefore, I have chosen to go on the record in an effort to inform the people of Chester, because they’re the ones who truly deserve an explanation. It is unfortunate that Mayor Linder decided to part ways with us. But, the loss of one man does not constitute the fall of a party. Nor, has it caused us to lose hope, faith or momentum. We are confident in the abilities of those we have opted to endorse and we look forward to continuing to serve the needs of the Chester community.


As you look at our website, www.chestercitydems.org, you will see in our value statement, ”that we must hold our political leaders accountable to ensure that they represent the best interest of the community and not of themselves” and that is exactly what we have done.


When you vote in May, vote for the endorsed team that will work to serve the people, together.


Livia H. Smith, Chairwoman, Chester City Democratic Committee