"Fired up and ready to go," was the slogan that rang in the air from time to time from the audience attending the Edgecombe County Human Relationship Commission's candidate forum Wednesday night in the Edgecombe County Administration Building.
Twenty-three local and state candidates participated in the forum.
The audience adopted the phrase "fired up and ready to go" after Andre Knight, incumbent candidate for Rocky Mount City Council Ward 1, urged them to do so while making his initial presentation. Knight is running against former Rocky Mount police chief, John H. Manley Jr., who did not attend the forum.
Knight said he is running on his "proven record" and he used a portion of his time to lobby for federal candidates.
"We have to go to the polls. We have to re-elect our president, Barrack Obama. We have send our congressman, G.K. Butterfield, back to Congress because he has spent more than $6 million in Edgecombe County," Knight said. "He has made healthcare affordable. He has improved housing and created jobs."
Butterfield attended the forum and spent most of his time attacking his opponent, Dan Whittacre (D) of Henderson, who was also in attendance. Butterfield said Whittacre changed to a registered Democrat six months ago just to run for the seat. He challenged Whittacre to name three North Carolina Democratic governors.
Whittacre replied by stating, "I didn't know this was going to be a quiz."
Whittacre explained that when he was in the military protecting the United States, he could not have a specific political affiliation. He said he became a registered Democrat recently because he believes in the party and the president.
Three of the four Tarboro Town Council Ward 6 candidates also attended the forum — Deborah Faye Dew Jordan, Alberta Pettaway, and Donald Parker.
Jordan said she believes she is the better candidate because of the commitment she is willing to make and her experience.
Parker said if he wins, he will be accessible and dependable.
Pettaway said, "I believe that we can build our city and we can help our city grow and become better if we work together."
Edgecombe County Board of Education District 2 seat candidates, Olga T. Dickens and Quincy Robinson also attended.
Dickens, a retired educator who spent 30 years in the classroom, said, "I will make sure that our children have a future in Edgecombe County and I will do what ever is necessary."
She reiterated several times how much she loves Edgecombe County children.
Robinson is a former town manager and a retired Sprint employee. He responded by saying, "I don't want anyone to leave here thinking I that I don't care about our children. I love our children as well.
"I have one focus, one agenda and it's all about the children."
Another heated local seat is for the Registrar of Deeds. Both candidates, incumbent Robin Williams Carpenter and Barbara Cole, were on-hand.
Carpenter said her 21 years of experience, along with her certifications, have allowed her to exceed the qualification of a registrar of deeds. She boast about her implementation of a document retrieval system that she called the biggest change that Edgecombe County register of deeds office has ever gone through.
Cole said she worked with the government that had files more plentiful than those at the register of deeds' office. She said her experience in that office, along with her customer service experience, will help her as the registrar of deeds.
The Rev. J.O. Williams was the only candidate from Tarboro Town Council Ward 4 to attend the forum.
When Williams was asked, "Why are you better than your opponent," he replied, "That question was a little bit sensitive to me. I grew up in a society where I grew up as less than. I made up in my mind that I don't intend to be less than anybody. I want to run, not that I'm better than my opponents, but because I know who I am."
N.C. House Representative District 23 incumbent Joe Tolson, and his opponent William Solomon, also attended the forum. Tolson, who is one of the senior members in the state legislature, was lobbying to keep the seniority while Solomon campaigned on sending a new face to Raleigh.
Florence Arnold Armstrong who is running against Clark Jenkins for a second time also attended while Jenkins did not.