King: Cleaning up shipyard property will be key priority
By Reggie Ponder
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Rickey King said voters in Elizabeth City’s 3rd Ward can count on him to do everything he can to keep the city moving in a positive direction.
King, who is seeking his fourth consecutive two-year term and sixth term overall, said he is running for re-election to City Council because there are some important areas the city is making progress in and he wants to see those things continue.
“There are some things in the city that I want to see done and supported,” King said.
A retired city police officer, King served on council from 2003-2005, 2007-2009, and 2013 to the present.
King said his experience on council is the main reason voters should vote for him in the Oct. 8 city election.
“People should vote for me because of my experience,” King said. “I know what’s going on. You can’t know what’s going on on city council in 18 months.”
King is seeking one of the ward’s two seats on council. Two other candidates are in the race: fellow Third Ward incumbent Kem Spence and Michael Brooks, who previously served as a councilor in the ward.
King said of all the priorities he has for the city, cleaning up the Elizabeth City Shipyard property off Riverside Avenue is at the top of the list.
“That’s one of the biggest things in the city is the shipyard,” King said. “If we can get that completed the whole city will look new.”
In addition to the shipyard, infrastructure citywide is also an important issue, he said.
Another priority for King is public safety, especially supporting what police Chief Eddie Buffaloe has termed 21st century community policing. According to King, Buffaloe presented an excellent report on the new policing approach to City Council.
“Right now we’re in a new era,” King said. “There are a lot of things that we have done in the past that are old now.”
King said Buffaloe is a good leader for the police department.
“I think he understands 21st century community policing and he’s working hard to get us where we need to be,” King said. “But we as a council have got to support him.”
Asked about Brooks’ claims about a police stop during the public comment period at a council meeting this summer, King said he had no problem with Brooks bringing his concerns to council because it’s his understanding that Brooks first spoke to the police chief about the matter.
But King said that Brooks, who is a former city councilor, or he himself, who is an incumbent councilor, or anyone else should know they are not exempt from being stopped by police.
“The police do what they have to do,” King said. “No one is above the law.”
Asked about King’s comment, Brooks said he was not questioning police’s right to stop him.
Asked about the council’s ability to work together — including the decision this summer to station a police officer outside the council chamber during closed sessions to maintain order and safety in the meetings — King said he believes the working relationships among council members are better than the public perception might be.
“I think the council is working together,” King said.
King also said he has never felt threatened or fearful during any council meeting, but he added that his experience as a police officer probably gives him a much higher threshold for tense situations than other people might have. He said female members of the council in particular might have a different perception regarding what is stressful or threatening.
The councilman also said his attendance at council meetings has improved because his health has improved.
A recent inquiry by The Daily Advance found that King missed nine of 39 city council meetings between July 1, 2018 and June 30 of this year. Spence, King’s fellow Third Ward colleague, missed the most meetings during that period. King’s nine absences tied him for the second most with 2nd Ward Councilman Gabriel Adkins.
King said his absences were because of an illness, but he added he is in good health now.
“I don’t have any health issues,” King said.