Wilkins to seek Ward 3 seat
BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Gwen Wilkins has done just about everything in local politics except run for office.
That's about to change as she plans to file for Ward 3 on the Rocky Mount City Council.
Wilkins has held several leadership positions in the Democratic Party at the national, state and local levels, including chairwoman of the 1st Congressional District, 1st vice chairwoman of the state party and chairwoman of the Nash County party. She served on the state MLK commissions for the city and state as well as the city's Utility Review Board.
Wilkins committed to not taking a leadership position in her party at this year's county and district conventions and said she will not hold a leadership position during her tenure if elected to the Ward 3 seat in October.
"I will be fighting for the welfare of all our citizens," Wilkins said.
The July filing period for municipal elections can't come soon enough for Wilkins. She said Friday that she's excited about the prospect of representing Ward 3.
"I will do my best," said Wilkins, who registered her campaign committee, Wilkins 4 City Council, with the local board of elections on Thursday. Her campaign slogan, "Better Together," tells it all, she said.
Wilkins said she believes everyone has a stake in the city and working together, respecting one another and realizing everyone has differences, will make for a better city.
"Better together," Wilkins said.
City leadership that listens constructively to the concerns of all residents will make the council better equipped to act on citizen concerns.
Wilkins said she will propose a monthly rotating visit by the full City Council to the seven Wards in the city.
"Rocky Mount is not large enough to pit ward against ward," Wilkins said. "While each ward might have unique concerns and issues, the betterment of the entire community will benefit all."
Neglected wards need to be "lifted up and everyone needs to share in the improvement,” Wilkins said.
"We can have chat with the residents of each ward to hear their points of view and experiences," Wilkins said. "Three minutes at the podium in a City Council meeting twice a month is not enough, and most citizens will not take that opportunity. We need a dialogue between council members and citizens.”
Wilkins will face Councilman Richard Joyner if he chooses to run. Joyner, also a Democrat, was selected by the council over Wilkins last year to finish out the term of Councilman Lamont Wiggins, who was appointed to a judgeship by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The City Council races are nonpartisan.
"Ward 3 has been left out of the equation and has not had a voice in quite some time," Wilkins said. "Ravenswood is going up in Ward 4, the Beale Street Apartments were built in Ward 2 and 4. And now, there is talk of housing in Ward 1. The residents of Ward 3 need and want a safe and affordable community to raise their children. As I ride around the ward, abandoned and boarded up houses along many of our Ward 3 streets are heartbreaking. Landlords and owners need to be held accountable.
“The city needs to enforce building code standards and the negotiation and selling of these abandoned houses to residents needs to take place as well as selling to builders and organizations who want to improve our community.”
Wilkins said she wants to see Rocky Mount flourish and grow and wants to work with the various organizations to bring jobs and industry to the city.
"Transportation is a major concern in Ward 3 with parents trying to get to work and students needing to get to Edgecombe and Nash community colleges to further their education," said Wilkins, who holds a bachelor’s degree in justice studies from N.C. Wesleyan College.
Since moving to the area in 1999, Wilkins has made her home in Ward 3 for 20 years. She is the mother of two adult daughters and a grandmother of five.