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Candidates flock to file for election

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Rocky Mount City Council Ward 4 candidate Elaine B. Williams, center, celebrates with state Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, after filing notice of candidacy on Friday at the Nash County Board of Elections in Nashville.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 6, 2019

The first day of filing for this year’s municipal elections in the Twin Counties on Friday turned out to be a busy day with two dozen candidates tossing their hats into the ring in Rocky Mount and nine other towns.

In Rocky Mount’s Ward 4, Councilwoman Lois Watkins is not running for re-election. Two candidates already have signed up to try to fill her shoes: Elaine B. Williams and T.J. Walker Jr.

Both candidates have heavyweights in their corners. Williams is endorsed by state Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash. Walker is the grandson of local legend the Rev. Thomas L. Walker, pastor of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

Gailliard said he is supporting Williams in the race for Ward 4. He is not endorsing any other city candidate.

“I’ve been watching Elaine for eight years,” Gailliard said. “She will make a great councilwoman, a good moderate with common sense.”

Gailliard told the group of supporters who showed up to watch Williams file that they will have to volunteer and raise money.

“Signs cost money,” Gailliard said. “I’m a pastor. ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’”

Williams said she will do what needs to be done that is legal and decent to help her community. She said she will work on behalf of Ward 4 and the whole city.

“I need your support and prayers,” Williams said. “I will be your leader for the next level.”

Williams has lived in Ward 4 for 35 years. She works at a local tax preparation company and has been a member of the Rocky Mount Planning Board for the past decade.

T.J. Walker said he is running to advance the good policies already in place and to bridge the generation gap.

“He’s very involved with the youth,” the Rev. Walker said. “He’s keyed into millennials. Of course, he’s part of that generation. I’m encouraged to see a person of his generation showing an interest in the political process.”

The Rev. Walker said his grandson running for office feels like a fullfilment of the civil rights work he has done over the years.

“The ward takes in the church and its petitioners,” the Rev. Walker said.

Both candidates said Watkins has done a great job for the city, but Williams is Watkins’ protégé and is receiving Watkins’ full support.

Bronson Williams filed for mayor of Rocky Mount.

“Now is the time to continue the momentum as we look towards a progressive future for our city,” Bronson said. “Now is the time to heal old wounds as we work together to create a brighter tomorrow for the forthcoming generations.”

Lige Daughtridge filed for Ward 5.

“As an ardent advocate for thoughtful transparent government, I’m excited to be a candidate for Rocky Mount City Council — Ward 5,” Daughtridge said. “We desperately need a city government that makes decisions balancing the human and financial needs of the city while asking tough questions of city management. Sometimes the best action is no action at all. I believe my business experience coupled with my leadership at both the local and state level have prepared me to serve as Ward 5 City Council representative.”

Three candidates filed for Ward 3: The incumbent Richard Joyner and challengers Gwen Wilkins and Nellene Richardson.

Joyner said his theme for the election is “Community Strong — City United.”

“By working to strengthen and build up our communities, we can also build city unity based on authentic progress across all sectors,” Joyner said. “I am committed to working in every way to be accountable and responsive to the citizens of Ward 3 and Rocky Mount for improving community safety; housing and home ownership; jobs; economic, downtown and neighborhood development; city services and fairness; equity; and inclusion.”

Wilkins said she is looking forward to forging relationships with Ward 3 residents.

“We can work together to improve our neighborhoods, make our parks more enticing to families and work with the Chamber of Commerce and others to bring business and industry to our area,” Wilkins said. “I would also encourage all council members to visit each ward, as a whole, and meet with residents to get a first-hand look at the needs of each ward as we strive to come together and unite our city as one.”

Richardson could not be reached for comment.

The following candidates filed to run in other municipalities in Nash County: Ervin Dewayne Powell for town commissioner in Bailey; Donald Street for mayor in Nashville; Charles Taylor for town councilman in Nashville; William Scott Briley for town commissioner in Red Oak; and Prudence Wilkins, Nancy Hawkins Walker and Brenda Lucas for town commissioner in Spring Hope.

The following candidates filed to run for office in Edgecombe County: Jesse Earl Pettaway and Annie Pettaway for town commissioner in Conetoe; Steve Burress for mayor in Pinetops; Dennis Sugg for town commissioner in Pinetops; and Leo Taylor, Deborah Faye Dew-Jordan and Tate Mayo for the town council in Tarboro.

Esterine Gary Pitt is running for mayor in Whitakers; and John P. Ford and Doris Ann Howington are running for town commissioner in Whitakers, which is in Nash and Edgecombe counties.

Don Patel and Linda Virgil are running for town commissioner in Sharpsburg, which is in Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties.

Candidate filings run through noon on July 19.