Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interview: Ricky Burgess

Two of his opponents from a formerly crowded field are now working on his own campaign. He says he has contributions totalling $20,000 in the bank, which is real money for a city council race. And this Saturday, the Democratic Committee of District 9 will meet once again to decide the party's official endorsement.

We asked Ricky Burgess about his experiences with the ACDC. "I have to commend the committee for putting the endorsement up to a vote once again" he said. After the original choice was disqualified, they could easily have anointed Leah Kirkland, the second-place vote-getter.

When asked what he hopes to accomplish on City Council, Burgess was forthright in aiming to win assets for his home district. He says a "layman's glance" at the capital budget shows District 9 -- including Homewood, Brushton, Lincoln-Lamirer, and parts of Friendship and Point Breeze -- is grossly underrepresented.

This can be taken as egregious; minority districts enable the city to get Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), either directly or indirectly, but then the city turns around and spreads the assets throughout its entirety.

We spoke much about poverty, violence, and relations with law enforcement. He has a four-point model for combating these problems -- prevention, intervention, prosecution, and reintegration -- and sees a special role for training and subsidized employment.

Burgess is windy and long-spoken like the community college professor and preacher that he is. When we touch a nerve, only a little eye-twitch clues us in. For example, when asked about the B.E.A.R., he chose his words very carefully. "We have to be careful we don't traumatize the community." he said.

He desperately seems to not to want to go negative. He says his neighborhoods could be helped a lot simply with "competent leadership and capable management."

Burgess spoke much about consensus-building, and having the city respect the community consensus on issues of land-use and development. We asked, basically, how hard is it to reach that consensus? What if it never seems to materialize?

We got a little eye-twitch. A lifelong member of various community groups, both secular and spiritual, he just doesn't see the difficulty the same way we do.

He goes so far as to promise a comprehensive, actionable "Capacity Plan" for public safety and economic development, within his first 100 days in office.

A fan of the burghoshere, Ricky Burgess says he regularly enjoys "The Carboholic Ball," among others.


  1. Good work here Bram.
    I have seen Burgess in action on the Board of Health, of which he is a member. He is smart and a good negotiator. He is sincerely concerned with public safety/neighborhood violence, a particularly important issue in the neighborhoods he would represent. And I'm sure his approach would be much more people-friendly than the militarized BEAR zone approach.

  2. What two former candidates are in his camp now?

    Name names please.