The founder of the Enough is Enough movement and a 2015 candidate for City Council both filed as candidates for City Council in Elizabeth City’s First Ward on Friday.
Bridget Colbert, owner of Photo Phlattery and founder of the Enough is Enough coalition, and Alice Redding, who owns and manages rental property, joined political newcomers Frank Caruso Jr. and Billy Caudle, and Jeannie Young, a former city councilor, in the First Ward race for two council seats.
All five are bidding for the seats being vacated this fall by current First Ward Councilors Jean Baker and Ray Donnelly, both of whom decided not to seek re-election.
Also not seeking re-election this fall is Third Ward Councilor Michael Brooks. Brooks’ decision not to file wasn’t a surprise. He had said earlier he would not seek another term.
Other than Colbert, Redding and mayoral candidate Sam Davis, there were no other last-day filings on Friday. As a result, this fall’s election will feature four candidates in the Second Ward: incumbent Councilors Anita Hummer and Tony Stimatz, political newcomer Paul Riggs and Gabriel Adkins, who ran unsuccessfully in the 4th Ward in 2011 as a write-in candidate.
Both Riggs and Adkins are associated with Colbert’s Enough is Enough movement, which formed earlier this year partly in response to the city’s utility crisis.
In the Third Ward, three candidates are seeking two seats. They are incumbent Councilman Rickey King, Kem Spence, a former councilman, and Linwood Gallop, who ran unsuccessfully in 2011 and 2013.
In the 4th Ward, incumbent Councilors Johnnie Walton and Darius Horton filed for reelection. Joining them in the race is Jason Gillis, a local attorney who ran unsuccessfully for a 4th Ward seat in 2015.
In the First Ward race, Colbert, 34, is making her first bid for elective office. Redding, 69, ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in the ward two years ago.
Redding filed Friday after being encouraged to run by Colbert.
Colbert is from Hickory and has been in Elizabeth City for seven years. She is running on a platform of change.
“I think young, fresh ideas and someone who can calm the storms are needed,” Colbert said.
She said electing new people to the council could bring calm.
“With the new council there might not be as much of a storm,” Colbert said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Colbert said she thinks having a new mayor will also be a positive change.
She said the biggest issue for her is a lack of accountability for what happened during the city’s utility billing crisis, which happened after the city switched to a new computerized billing system. The conversion, which City Manager Rich Olson stopped in April, generated inaccurate and untimely bills for many residential and business customers of the city’s electric utility.
Colbert believes Olson should have been disciplined in some way by the council.
“I think there needs to be some accountability,” Colbert said. “I’m not saying ‘fired,’ but something needs to show accountability. I think that’s why the citizens feel left behind.”
Redding replied “I want change” when asked why she is running for council again.
“I really want to change the face of the town,” Redding said. “I really want to make it a welcoming southern town.”
Redding said she is excited about Arts of the Albemarle’s First Friday ArtWalks and other things happening in the city around the arts, but is concerned about what people see when they visit the waterfront.
“I want something that will attract the tourists and the residents,” Redding said. “We’ve got to get people living downtown.”
Private investment is needed at the waterfront, she said.
But Redding said the city had not been friendly toward private investment. She cited as an example her own proposal for a multi-use development on Charles Creek that would include apartments and public water access. City Council voted down the project in 2008.
Members of council need to get along with each other even when they disagree on issues, she said.
“We have to respect each other’s opinions,” Redding said.
Redding joined Colbert and a number of other candidates who have called for “accountability” this election.
“I think there needs to be accountability,” Redding said.
Unlike some other candidates — notably Councilman Darius Horton in the 4th Ward and newcomer Paul Riggs in the 2nd Ward — Redding is not calling for Olson’s dismissal.
“I am not running on that premise,” Redding said. “But I’m telling you I want transparency and accountability.”
Redding said she is proud of what Olson has accomplished in the area of infrastructure, which she said is his strong suit.
“His relationship in dealing with the public lacks skill, in my opinion,” Redding said.