Chester County Democrats elect first black to top post

CHESTER -- The Chester County Democratic Party elected its first black chairperson this week.

Former Chester Mayor Wanda Stringfellow was chosen for the post at the Chester Democratic convention Tuesday night.

Stringfellow, 44, replaced Alex Wylie, who had served as the party's leader in the county since 2000. Wylie said he wasn't upset about losing the post, which he had considered giving up anyway.

"There's a whole lot of work that I don't have to worry about," he said. "I'm 69 years old. ... I can kind of be out on the edges now."

Stringfellow is the first black person to chair the Democratic Party in Chester County, said her father, the Rev. Bill Stringfellow, president of the Chester branch of the NAACP.

Bill Stringfellow said his daughter's election speaks of the progress local blacks have made.

"It's a chance to make a drastic change," he said. "We've still got a ways to go, but they're beginning to do the right thing. ... The black community's proud to see that she was elected to this post, and the community as a whole, I think, is satisfied with (her) being elected to the post."

Wanda Stringfellow is accustomed to breaking tradition.

After serving two full terms and one incomplete term on the Chester City Council, she made history in 1999 when she was elected mayor, becoming the first woman to hold that position in Chester. She also was only the city's second black mayor.

Stringfellow served two terms as mayor but was unseated last year by Mitch Foster.

She left office amid controversy over the city's financial problems. And just months before last year's mayoral election, she made headlines when it was reported that the S.C. Department of Revenue was collecting $353 from each of her paychecks to resolve a debt she owed the commission for filing an economic interest form late.

Stringfellow, who has maintained her service was above reproach, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

As chairwoman of the county's Democratic Party, she will serve a two-year term.