Business owner seeks Ward 1 seat
BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Sunday, March 10, 2019
A downtown small business owner is determined to be the next city councilman to represent Ward 1.
Tarrick Pittman, 45, is challenging longtime incumbent Councilman Andre Knight.
"My opponent is a good man," Pittman said. "We have our differences. Some may not like him, but you cannot take away from his years of service to our city and the black community."
Pittman said he and Knight both want the best for the community and share some of the same beliefs.
"I think it’s time for a change and it’s time to get some fresh legs in the game," Pittman said. "I think my opponent will still have a valuable role in the community working with the NAACP."
But community activism hasn’t gotten much done in Ward 1 over the past 17 years, Pittman said.
"Just ride through Ward 1 and take a look for yourself," Pittman said. "If your quality of life and your neighborhood is safer now than it was 17 years ago, vote for my opponent. However, if you live in the real world and are looking to improve your community with better schools for your kids, safer streets and job creation through a focus on entrepreneurship and developing small businesses — then I’m your guy and would love your vote to make those things happen."
Pittman said he's running for City Council because he wants to make a difference in his community.
"I have thought about the idea of running for a few years now," Pittman said. "I have lived on Woodland Avenue over the last year and have experienced first-hand the hardships that plaque Ward 1."
Pittman said he's lived across the street from the redevelopment Knight mentioned in last Sunday's Telegram.
"I had a neighbor last year move in one of those beautiful properties — a hard-working single mother," Pittman said. "A week after she moved in, her home was broken into. While I commend the council for their efforts, without getting a stranglehold on crime all that will go to waste."
Drugs, crime, prostitution and gang activity plague Ward 1, Pittman said.
"Where we have made some tremendous gains in downtown development over the years, which I support, we cannot forget our neighborhoods are in dire need of help," Pittman said.
Ward 1 is predominantly black.
"It is important that we invest in ourselves and our communities," Pittman said. "This is why black entrepreneurship is important. I have been talking with developers and investors over the last year about ways we can promote and develop a greater presence of black-owned businesses in Ward 1. Not just downtown, but all along the Raleigh Boulevard corridor. These are black neighborhoods and the goods and services should be controlled by people that look like them. I shouldn’t have to by my hair care products from someone that doesn’t have hair like me. We should be selling the products."
Such a set-up would keep revenue in Ward 1 and help with the high unemployment rate, Pittman said.
"It will also give the people of Ward 1 a sense of pride to be able to control the goods flowing through their community," Pittman said. "This will give young people an opportunity to see someone like them running a business, which will hopefully inspire them to do the same."
Pittman said he wants his entrepreneurial endeavor to be a blueprint for young black business owners. Pittman has ran his computer repair shop on the Douglas Block for six years. He's president of the Downtown Merchants Association and also serves on the city's Central City Revitalization Panel.
"We need more shopping centers, stores and restaurants in Ward 1," Pittman said, "in all of Edgecombe County Rocky Mount."
For far too long, Ward 1 residents have seen businesses leave the community — never to return.
"You can’t expect a community activist to recruit small businesses in your community," Pittman said. "If they won’t come to us, we must create our own."
Pittman said that for far too long, city residents have given the county line — and people who choose to use it — too much power in defining the community.
"I choose to see it as what binds as together," Pittman said. "We are one Rocky Mount.”