Rosser Challenges Incumbent Councilman Mack Arthur Bell For District 2 Council Seat
TPV News Staff
20 years after black leaders in Randolph County took on local governments, and sued to change Roanoke’s method of voting to single member districts, Jeffery Rosser has decided to again throw his hat into the race for Roanoke City Council District 2, challenging incumbent Mack Bell.
During a face to face interview this week, Rosser stated, “All I know is that we need a change… I’ve been in East Roanoke 54 years, and with the physical eye, we haven’t seen not one visible improvement … not one change in our community.”Rosser says he was playing around with the idea of running, but didn’t really get serious about it until the last minute. “I haven’t really had the time to gather my thoughts about it. But, I’m convinced that it’s time for a change.”
“Anybody who left East Roanoke 20 years ago, and stayed away those 20 years and comes back here today, would see the same thing now, that was here when they left. Maybe a piece of paving here or there, some patching, and a few street lights. After 20 years, don’t you know there ought to be something to show for all those years on the City Council?”
“It’s been more than 20 years since Wilkie Clark, Roy Terry, Rudolph Terry, Rev. Heflin, and Lathonia Wright sued the City and the County, to get these black districts set up. When the districts were first set up, they were the ones who encouraged me to run for that seat. So I qualified. At the last minute, Bell also qualified. When I found out he had qualified, I started to drop out. My main concern, at that time, was just to see somebody black run for that seat since they had fought so hard to get the districts. People encouraged me to stay in the race; they didn’t believe Bell could beat me, so I stayed on in there, but he beat me by 19 votes. And, after he won, I supported him. But, it’s been 20 long years, and I just want Bell to know that he can’t just walk in no more. He can’t just get a free ride. He’s been just walking in all these years. Whether I win or not, my intention is to let Mack Bell know that after 20 years, the free ride is up. It’s going to cost something this time. He needs some competition, and maybe by having to compete, he will feel more accountable to the people. He feels like he’s entitled to that seat on the city Council. If he did anything, he didn’t do it over here in the black community.
Right now, my only concern is to get him out. I can’t make any promises about what differences you’ll see, because I don’t know what we haven’t seen. But, I know we haven’t seen any visible changes. That’s what’s wrong now: people making promises, and not doing anything. I’m not trying to say I know everything about how the city runs. But, if I get in there, and see how things are going, I bet you I’ll stand up for District 2. I passed by Trinity Baptist Church today, and they had a sign on their billboard, “Too many folks trying to get rights to do wrong… That’s the problem in Roanoke.”
One thing I can say, if they do put me up there, they know they are going to have somebody who will stand up for them. If you believe in what’s right, you ought to stand up for it.
I do feel we need to see more interaction between our councilperson and the district. Bell isn’t talking to the people. You ought to have something to say to the people sometime.
I can tell you that in my neighborhood, if you drive down Borders Street, and look down in that hole where Bishop Wilkes, the Poole’s and the Morgan’s live, you’ll see where the run-off from the street has just ruined that area in front of their homes. Don’t you know that in 20 years, something could have been done about that? All over East Roanoke, especially over here in the black community, the drainage is horrible. You have ditches on the side of the road-ways that need fixing. I have nearly wrecked my car at various times, trying to drive through East Roanoke.
“How do you pave part of a street? The city did part of Borders Street, and didn’t even pave down our way.”
Another thing is – they have too much mess going on up there. I don’t know what’s going on up there. But, one thing I do know — I want the mess that’s going on up there to stop. And somebody needs to try and help stop it. It’s ridiculous. Every time you look around, citizens are being misled about bringing industry into the city, and then when the industry comes, they’re not working but 5 or 6 folks. How do you justify wasting time and money, to bring in an industry that can’t hire but 5 or 6 folks? That is not progress.
The only thing I have seen in the black community, with my physical eyes, is tearing down or burning up a few houses here and there. And the thing is – when houses go down, you’ve got a big empty spot-you don’t have anything, whereas before you tore it down, you at least had something somebody could come back here and fix up. That’s not doing anybody any good.
The main thing I want to do right now is encourage all these people to go out and vote.
The only way we are not going to see any change is if the people go to the polls and vote. I really want to encourage the people of District 2 to go vote on election day.
Also contending for the District 2 seat are Phillip Taylor, and David Cummings.