The elected organizers of the Spokane County Democrats all resigned Saturday, citing issues in the way the state party’s chairwoman had dealt with a complaint that claimed leaders did not promote equity and inclusiveness in the party.
Tina Podlodowski, the state chairwoman, said late Saturday that an investigation into three conduct complaints against local party leadership had followed proper channels, and the resignations came suddenly and without an opportunity for rebuttal by state leadership.
Jac Archer, a former local party official, said they’d filed a complaint alleging Spokane County Democratic Party Chair Ed Wood had not allowed other voices like theirs when they attempted to make changes within the party.
“This space simply wasn’t safe or welcoming for, in my opinion, queer folks, people of color, for younger people, or even just people who had ideas that he wasn’t immediately fond of,” said Archer, who is Black and nonbinary.
In a resignation letter shared with The Spokesman-Review, Wood said Podlodowski received a complaint about his conduct in December and did not inform local officials until last month. The letter alleges Podlodowski did not follow up with Wood about the complaint, despite pledging to do so, but Podlodowski said Saturday some communication had occurred.
“At this point I no longer have the desire and have lost faith and confidence in the lack of leadership in the state party chair, and for that reason I have no other alternative but to resign,” Wood said.
The vice chair and two state committee members also resigned.
Podlodowski said the party had received multiple “credible code-of-conduct complaints” against Wood. She met with representatives of the Spokane branch of the NAACP, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Spokane NOW, the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, I Did The Time and Spokane County Young Democrats, all of whom requested a change in local party leadership. Podlodowski said those concerns were shared with the chair of the local party “with no response.”
Wood said he had never discussed that meeting with Podlodowski, calling it “an out-and-out lie.”
Archer, who resigned as vice chair in February, said they’d filed the complaint because “my treatment in the party and the treatment of other people like me in the party was poor.”
Wood said in an interview Saturday that diverse voices were incorporated into the party and were not silenced. He intended to continue serving as a precinct committee officer in the party, and to work with candidates ahead of the November elections, despite his dispute with state leadership. Wood said he still has not seen the contents of the complaint against him.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat, and will remain one,” Wood said.
The resignations come after a tumultuous couple of years for the organization, and as the party looks to support presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden and other area Democrats in the November elections.
Podlodowski thanked Wood on Saturday for what she called “yeoman’s work” trying to get the party back on good financial footing.
The Democrats remain bound to a legal settlement with the state Attorney General’s office not to commit any new public finance disclosure violations , after it was determined the party hadn’t reported more than $100,000 in contributions and $100,000 in expenses in 2016. The complaint was brought by Glen Morgan, a frequent filer of Public Disclosure Commission complaints who has chiefly targeted Democratic groups and candidates .
“What we have in the end is a commitment to the democratic value of inclusion and equity and equality, all three of those values really drive everything that we did in the party,” Podlodowski said, calling the situation “sad.” “If those values are somehow being compromised, it’s very difficult for a local party leadership to be able to continue that work, given that we work in coalition with so many different people.”
Wood is the third chair the local party has had since 2017. Under the bylaws of the party, which do not contemplate vacancies in all the elected positions, the party members will elect new leadership at a future meeting.
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