Political prognosticators say that Ellicott District Common Council member Darius Pridgen has a lot to worry about this November. A young, successful, and charismatic political newcomer — Terrance Heard — has emerged to challenge the theatrical first term Councilman who has ambitions on the Mayor’s office.
Heard is asking supporters to take photos of urban blight in their neighborhoods to visually show people the problem, a strategy that deeply undermines Pridgen’s rationale for reelection. Heard plans to run a positive campaign, but Pridgen’s lackluster performance could become a central question for voters.
“Overwhelmingly, Buffalonians are disgusted with all of the urban blight in our neighborhoods. Today we will start our ‘Listening Tour.’ For the next month, we want City Hall to hear and answer to all of the eyesores that plague our city. If we all post examples of urban blight, our elected officials must respond to their neglected districts,” Heard explains. “I will tackle these problems with your help on November 3rd.”
He is using Facebook and other social media tools to bring the issue of urban blight to the voters directly, without the biased filter of the local television news media. A recent Facebook post explains the strategy:
I’m asking all of my FB family to take pictures of abandoned buildings, empty lots, unkept fields, abandoned homes, unsafe sidewalks, deteriorated streets, missing curbs and un-picked up mounds of trash that we frequently view around our city. Take a picture and repost it under “HEARD’S URBAN BLIGHT CAMPAIGN”
Heard is challenging Pridgen to a series of debates, but Pridgen is dodging. Observers say that he doesn’t want to stand on stage with Heard, who is tall with an impressive stature that exudes leadership. He has a strong command of the issues and is eager to offer up solutions and ideas. The optics wouldn’t benefit Pridgen — who is much older, smaller, and a less professional style.
Heard was a member of Pridgen’s congregation until the pastor lashed out at him on Facebook for circulating petitions to challenge him. Heard has successfully petitioned his way onto the General Election ballot under the “1 Ellicott” line, a political party he founded.