A candidate for mayor used the microphone on Thursday evening to give a fiery speech saying he believes the stakes are too high in the Oct. 8 election for potential voters not to cast their ballots.

“So many people feel as though their vote will not count, but the reality is now is the time to make that vote count here in Rocky Mount, North Carolina,” Bronson Williams said at a rally at the Booker T. Theater.

“Now is the time to make real change happen here in Rocky Mount, North Carolina,” Williams said.

“Now is the time to make real what Rocky Mount is supposed to be,” Williams said. “Rocky Mount is not just Nash County, but Rocky Mount is Edgecombe and Nash county.”

Williams is on the ballot with Robert Lee Alston, Kevin Jones and Sandy Roberson.

Williams said he believes when one looks at the development happening in the community, it is a reality that Rocky Mount is moving forward.

Williams claimed, however, there are those who want to stop the city from moving forward. He then took a few verbal jabs at Roberson, who has surpassed the $150,000 mark in fundraising.

Williams said when one thinks about how much money people are willing to spend to keep “a little boy like Bronson Williams” from being the mayor, that is something to be proud of at the end of the day.

“That means that I have accomplished so much in this community, have advocated so strongly for people in the community, that he realizes that if Bronson becomes mayor, ‘Oh, my God, oh, my God, we’re going to finally have somebody, a mayor with a backbone, somebody who’s going to fight for each and every citizen in Rocky Mount, North Carolina,’” he said.

Among his other remarks, Williams noted he came from areas of the city where some people do not want to go, but he rode his bicycle in those areas when he was a boy and felt safe.

“I knew my neighbors,” Williams said. “We’ve got so many people who don’t want to even say hello to our neighbors. We simply want to see ’em leave.

“How in the world can we say that we want community, but we do everything that’s opposite of community?” Williams said. “Community is about knowing your neighbor, helping your brother or sister along the way so that our living will not be in vain. That’s what it’s about.”

He also spoke about public safety and what he sees as the need to get morals and respect back into the community.

“The reality is we’ve got to be better neighbors,” he said. “We’ve got to begin to report crimes as they happen and not sit back in silence and just think that the police department is going to do it on their own. That’s not going to happen. We have to get people involved at every single level.”

Three other candidates spoke: Ward 1 Councilman Andre Knight, who introduced Williams moments earlier; Elaine B. Williams, who is seeking election in Ward 4; and Robert Cordell, who is seeking election in Ward 5.

The Rev. Thomas Walker also spoke on behalf of his son, Ward 4 candidate T.J. Walker Jr.

Knight particularly was vocal, not naming names but saying, “Our vote is not for sale. You're not for sale. Rocky Mount ain't for sale.”

“You give some hot dogs, but you give others caviar and shrimp,” Knight said. “You pimp our kids with bookbags, but we want better schools in Rocky Mount, higher wages for our teachers. You send doughnuts to beauties and barbershops, but we want better jobs for our community.”

Overall, Knight said his agenda is the same as when he first sought election in 2003: development in all of the city; better housing; better diversity in the workforce; and better schools.

Tarrick Pittman is opposing Knight.

Elaine B. Williams emphasized her activism in politics as second vice chairwoman of the Nash County Democratic Party and her decade of service on the Rocky Mount Planning Board.

Williams noted she is quite active in attending City Council meetings. She then gave her own catchy campaign message, saying, “You just need to look for Williams and Williams on your ballot — and mark both of them.”

Cordell said he is an Air Force veteran and that his resume includes having been a teacher, a coach and a school administrator.

Cordell emphasized he has a 30-point plan.

“I’m running for the heart and soul of Rocky Mount,” he said. “We can do this — we can do this together.”

Cordell is on the ballot with Planning Board member Lige Daughtridge.

Walker, a longtime civil rights activist, said, “Needless to say, I am putting 1,000 percent behind my grandson” and noted one can check his own record.

“I fought for you many, many, many years,” Walker said, asking why he should stop fighting now that his flesh and blood is in the fight.

One-stop early voting is set to begin on Sept. 18 and extend through Oct. 4.