Water was key issue for new commissioner

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LUCAMA — Patricia Uzzell is the first African-American to be elected to a seat on the Lucama Board of Commissioners.

But it may not have been the color of Uzzell’s skin that mattered as much as the color of the water coming out of residents’ faucets.

Uzzell, who had never run for public office before, was elected Nov. 7 after making the town’s water quality one of her centerpiece issues.

“The main thing is our overall health,” Uzzell said last week as she held a jar of brown Lucama water.

“That came from a faucet of one of the residents, but I have seen this at my house as well,” Uzzell said. “I have seen people come to the meetings and I have seen them bring jars of water and they ask them ‘What are we going to do about this water?’”

Uzzell said she is concerned about the elderly residents and families with children who consume the water, bathe in it or wash their clothes in it.

“We do a water drive because on one side of the tracks, the people have to deal with water like this,” Uzzell said. “What we do is we put cases of water on people’s porches.” She recorded a Facebook Live video as she and other residents handed out the water.

Uzzell said town officials have assured her that the water has been tested and is safe.

“I am just a little ambivalent about that,” Uzzell. “Fine water shouldn’t look like this.”

Uzzell said she started campaigning the day after she filed to run for commissioner.

“I went door to door. I knocked on a lot of doors. I wanted to see the people and I wanted them to see me,” Uzzell said. “We have 463 units within the city limits. I know I didn’t make all 463, but I will tell you that I know I covered pretty much all of them. I asked them to give me an opportunity. I asked them to believe in me.”

A native of Washington, Uzzell has lived in Lucama for nearly 16 years.

Uzzell said that her biggest supporter as her husband, Thera Uzzell. Both are ministers at Greater Harvest Community Church in Wilson.

“He pushed me. He helped me campaign,” Uzzell said. “He was my No. 1 fan.”

Uzzell’s deepest hope is that she can work with those who are already on the board and have been there for decades.

“There is no I in team,” said Uzzell, who said she wants to synergize the community to work for Lucama.

“I did my research and found out through the traffic engineer that every day through the town of Lucama, northbound and southbound, we have 7,000 cars a day passing through the town of Lucama,” Uzzell said. “You are looking at 2.5 million cars north and southbound through Lucama every year. Can you imagine if we had a reason for them to stop and bring some revenue to this town?”

Uzzell said she is grateful that she was afforded the opportunity to serve Lucama. She was elated to be elected by the people.

“I was tearful. I was very happy. It happened. I was in shock and awe for one,” Uzzell said. “The hard work really did pay off.”

Uzzell said she was proud as an African-American, but more so, she was proud as a person.

“I am here for the people. To me, we have overcome somewhat of a hurdle, at the same time I am here for the people,” Uzzell said. “To me, it doesn’t matter, green, purple, blue, yellow, black or white, if you have got an issue, let’s get it resolved.”