Editorial: Victory for Democrats: Racist committee member resigns


Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Miranda Pederson/Bowling Green Daily News

Mark Salvas, former executive director of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, showed support for the Confederate flag in social media posts from 2015.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Democrats are well-known for championing anti-racist causes — but until Tuesday, Allegheny County employed a racist Democrat within its own Committee. Mark Salvas, recently hired as the Allegheny County Democratic Committee’s executive director, resigned yesterday for his numerous Facebook posts that contained “racist undertones.”

Thankfully Salvas is no longer with the party, as he resigned yesterday. The senior members of the committee who pushed him out demonstrated that society is moving in the right direction on racial issues — but they should screen their new hires more carefully in the future.

“Because diversity is the backbone of the Democratic party and African-Americans are a strong voting block in the party, we should have an executive director who’s committed to inclusivity and represents all people,” Pennsylvania Rep. Austin Davis said. “It was clear there were a lot of questions whether the now former executive director would be able to do that.”

Among Salvas’ controversial posts was one in protest of Colin Kaepernick.

“I stand for the flag. I kneel at the cross,” Salvas said.

Another post, which Salvas shared on his Facebook page, showed his support for the Confederate flag in response to 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof shooting 12 African-Americans at a Charleston church in 2015.

“A crazy guy shoots up a church and you ban a flag?” the post read.

Not only are these posts racially insensitive, but they oppose the Democratic party’s political platform — three-quarters of Democrats supported Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem and 83 percent oppose the Confederate flag.

Considering that Salvas made these posts several years ago and they were publicly accessible on the internet, he shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

“We have a zero-tolerance for racism within the party platform and these allegations were serious, and I think the chairwoman handled it appropriately,” Pennsylvania Democratic Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills said.

But County Committee Chair Eileen Kelly failed to comment on Salvas’ resignation even though he was hired under her leadership. Salvas isn’t the first committee member under Kelly who’s displayed problematic, non-progressive tendencies, either.

Kevin Quigley was elected to a committee leadership post earlier this year, even though he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend in 2014 — but Kelly seemingly brushed it off.

“There is no procedure to remove someone who holds an elected position,” Kelly told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when the charges were dismissed in 2014.

Even though Kelly couldn’t forcibly remove Quigley from office — he remains an Allegheny County committee member — a Democratic committee leader should still denounce his actions, as domestic violence certainly isn’t in line with progressive values. Doing so would set a more aggressive precedent against those who oppose progressive values and basic decency.

Salvas’ resignation is a huge victory for Allegheny County Democrats. It shows that Pittsburgh is making progress toward healing racial divisiveness. But the point remains — people like Salvas and Quigley should never have been hired in the first place.

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