The vice chair of the local party, attorney Beverly Edwards, recently stepped down because she's supporting Councilwoman Mary DeGroot for mayor and wants to avoid any appearance of impropriety. But Miran says she doesn't see any conflict in her own situation. "I've always been straightforward about where I am, and people don't seem to have a problem with it," she says, noting that nobody is challenging her in party elections scheduled this Saturday.

Coleman is running for vice chair in that election, a decision she says was prompted by her desire to see "the party survive as a party and not as any one individual's party." She says several party members have complained that the "Webb machine is moving in," an apparent reference to concerns that Miran may be stacking the party's district-captain slots with Webb supporters.

Miran says those charges are unfounded, noting that district captains are elected by party members in their neighborhoods. However, she doesn't deny that when it comes to the twelve at-large captains who serve at her pleasure, "I'm going to appoint people I feel comfortable with."

One of the people Miran has appointed to an at-large post is Mary Sylvester, a longtime Webb supporter who served as the mayor's director of excise and licenses from 1991 to 1993. Now Sylvester has made waves by announcing that she's challenging longtime district captain Frank Sullivan for the captain's position in District 8B.

That district includes Wellington Webb's neighborhood; in fact, the mayor used to be district captain himself. And Sullivan's recent announcement that he is supporting DeGroot in Webb's backyard has rankled the mayor. Says Sylvester, "I know Wellington well enough to say, yeah, he doesn't like it one damn bit."

Sylvester denies that she got in the race as part of a Webb-inspired plot to deliver a political paddling to Sullivan, a twenty-year veteran of the local party. Sullivan, however, appears convinced that Webb put Sylvester up to it. "I'm terribly flattered the mayor would be able to spend some time dealing with me when he's got an awful lot on his plate at the present time," he says.

Sylvester acknowledges that her decision to run will likely bring an end to her long friendship with Sullivan, who lives down the alley from her in Park Hill. But she adds that she "had not realized it was his birthright to be captain for life." Sylvester says she believes Sullivan is just angry with Webb because the mayor refused to give Sullivan's son a job at the city election commission four years ago.

Sullivan acknowledges being upset about his son's employment efforts but says he split with Webb for "more than one reason." And he says that what really bothers him isn't that Webb blocked his son's appointment, but that the mayor, a longtime friend, played dumb when confronted about it later.

Miran, meanwhile, denies being part of any plan to target Sullivan for being disloyal. "I haven't been part of any conversation on that," she says. Her friend Mary Sylvester, she adds, "is real good at respecting that, as county chair, I can't do things in the party that way.

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