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Arts and politics mix

campaign notes

campaign notes


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A venue participating in the First Friday Art Walk has invited candidates for Greenville City Council to chat with guests about the growth of the city’s arts scene.

Galleries, restaurants and other businesses in the Uptown District offer specials and promotions on the first Friday of each month to draw visitors downtown. John Bullard, owner of the new Gallery dba, a fine art venue at 817 Dickinson Ave., has invited candidates to take part in the evening.

He said that candidates will have an opportunity to deliver remarks at his gallery at 6:30 p.m. He said that he specifically wanted to hear how candidates plan to support the arts community in Greenville. 

With the help of city leaders, Greenville can “keep growth happening,” Bullard said. “We want the art to be a part of that.”

He said that as of Wednesday afternoon, mayoral candidate Calvin Mercer, at-large candidate Christopher Nunnally and District 4 incumbent Rick Smiley have confirmed they will attend.

Bullard said he is still reaching out to other candidates. Regardless of how many decide to come, formal remarks would be brief in favor of a casual and personal tone. 

Friday promises to be a busy night downtown that includes the first Freeboot Friday ahead of ECU’s home football opener against James Madison.

Bullard said one candidate approached him about making remarks, but he did not want to appear to be supporting anyone in particular.

Instead, he thought the Art Walk could be a valuable opportunity for the politicians to talk about what Bullard believes is a critical part of the community and the city’s quality of life.  


District 3 candidate Uriah Ward has received two endorsements from state political groups. He is the first person this year to receive and endorsement from The College Democrats of North Carolina executive board, his campaign announced. The board said its unanimous support for Ward was based on his previous work with the organization and his qualifications for the position. The official release said Ward was “uniquely qualified to bridge the gap between longtime residents and the student population; he has experience beyond his years.”

Equality NC, another political action group, also listed Ward in their list of official endorsements. Ward is the only candidate in Pitt County to receive the group’s endorsement. The release said they evaluated candidates on multiple factors, including responses to a LGBTQ-issue-based questionnaire, interviews with candidates public position statements and past voting records. 


Mayoral candidate Calvin Mercer announced that a reception to support his campaign is scheduled for Sept. 26 at the Hilton Greenville. The reception is being hosted by Chris Godley, Drs. Bill McConnell and Mary Raab, Eddie Smith, Steven and Linda Stephenson and David Womack.

Mercer platform

Mercer in a news release also endorsed the creation of a performing arts center in Greenville. Based on a feasibility study conducted by ECU and several partners, Mercer said that the city and university should push to find private donors.

The center would be “transformative to our city, offering a boost in the arts and quality of life which spur economic development,” he said in the release. 

The candidate also boosted the city’s Watershed Master Plan as critical to addressing ongoing flooding and stormwater problems. He said the city should continue to find ways to support the $380 million in projects involved in the plan. 

Campaign Notes is a regular column during the election season. Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579 to share your news.