Fourth candidate seeks Ward 3 seat

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Nellene Richardson, right, a candidate for Rocky Mount City Council Ward 3, laughs as her grandson Calvin Bullock, 5, attempts to jump rope Saturday during a block party at Success Auto Group on Norfolk Street.


Staff Writer

Sunday, June 16, 2019

A longtime community advocate has announced a run for the Ward 3 seat on the Rocky Mount City Council.

Nellene Richardson officially announced her campaign on Saturday at one of her block parties. The event on Old Wilson Road offered a neighborhood pig pickin’ and hotdogs, job leads, access to community agencies and voter registration.

Richardson said there are folks who have lived in Ward 3 their entire lives and are not going to leave because some young people are cutting up.

“That’s why I’m hosting block parties,” Richardson said. “It’s working.”

Richardson has several more block parties planned for the summer — the next is set for July 4.

Helping the community is something she has done for years.

“I can make a bad thing beautiful,” Richardson said. “Just because you don’t have money doesn’t mean you have to live bad. I will go inside a home with roach bombs and paint and clean it up. Love conquers all that other stuff. I’m not just a dreamer, I work hard.”

Richardson is a mental health employment specialist with a background in nursing. She has a master’s degree in human services and is working toward a doctorate.

“I come from where many people in my community come from,” Richardson said. “I scratched my way up and I’m going to spend my life showing people how they can improve their lives.”

Richardson has lived in Ward 3 off and on for years. She raised her children in Ward 3. She moved away in 2008 and returned in 2015.

“I’m running for City Council because when I moved back to Rocky Mount in 2015, I noticed a difference. I started to talk to people and when the seat opened up I applied,” Richardson said.

The seat is held by Richard Joyner, who was appointed to the position last year after Lamont Wiggins stepped down when he was appointed to be a Superior Court judge.

The City Council chose Joyner over Richardson and two other applicants: Bronson Williams and Tamisha Patterson. Another applicant, Gwen Wilkins, withdrew her name from the hat before the council made a selection.

Joyner is running for the seat as an appointed incumbent. Williams is running for mayor. Wilkins has announced a campaign for the Ward 3 seat. Patterson’s political plans are unknown.

Johnny Cunningham, a well-known advocate for impoverished communities, also is running for the Ward 3 seat.

“I knew that moment that I was going to run,” Richardson said of losing out on the appointment. “I’m hands-on — I talk to people. A lot of people in our ward knew Lamont, but a lot of people didn’t.”

At the block parties, she is getting to know people in her ward.

“The more I talk to people with drug issues, the more it’s clear they are looking for a way out. They feel no one is listening,” she said. “I see a lot of politicking, but I don’t see anyone really listening. We need a voice. I believe I’m the one that can make them listen to us. I love my community. Not everyone in Ward 3 is a bad person. I’m going to fight for them.”

Richardson said she is not the type of person to drive by someone and look the other way. She said she stops and listens.

“I’ve never seen any of the other candidates in my community,” Richardson said. “Whoever wins, I hope they make themselves available to the people and not just sit in a council seat.”