Many of incoming alderman Bryant Crisp’s goals for Gibsonville center on building up the basics. But it’s his perspective – and his background – that he hopes will bring more positive change to the town than simply boosting infrastructure.
A native of East Burlington, Crisp, 41, moved to Gibsonville five years ago to find a safer environment for his sons – he now has three, aged 2-, 12-, and 18-years-old – during a streak of violent crimes in his community.
“[The oldest son] was starting to hang out with his friends and what-not, and they like to go to the park and play basketball,” Crisp recalled to The Alamance News. “I didn’t really want him to be maybe in the wrong place at the wrong time because of what’s going on with some other kids.”
Gibsonville, he decided, offered a safer and slower pace of life for him and his boys.
Prior to leaving Burlington, Crisp was already active in his area, mentoring youth and coaching sports while also advocating for his community alongside others like Dreama Caldwell and Dejuana Bigelow, both of whom have run unsuccessfully for Alamance County’s board of commissioners and Burlington’s city council, respectively.
“We kind of all pulled ourselves together,” he said of himself, Caldwell, and Bigelow. “We saw people in our community who needed food and we found a way to feed them, or if they needed help with the bill, we helped with it. It started from that, and then we got more involved in politics, and voter registration, and all that stuff.”
Eventually, though, friends and residents encouraged the trio to campaign for local government instead of petitioning officials for assistance in the area.
“’You know what we need. Why don’t you guys just run and be those people?’” Crisp recalled his neighbors saying.
‘I can relate to any type of person’
As the youngest alderman and the second black board member alongside long-time mayor Lenny Williams, Crisp told the newspaper that he desires to carry forward some of the accomplishments of the board while representing a different demographic.
“I can relate to any type of person. I can go into any neighborhood. . . I can relate to all of these people, and they feel a sense of representation.” – new Gibsonville alderman Bryant Crisp
“All of our board members have done a great job, but I want the board to reflect the town a little more as far as representation,” he explained. “Like me, I’ve been in positions in my life where I’ve been well-off. I’ve been in positions where we’ve been poor before. I can relate to any type of person. I can go into any neighborhood.
“I can relate to all of these people, and they feel a sense of representation,” he added.
“I’ve been in areas and they’re like, ‘Well, there’s never been a candidate to even come in this neighborhood. They’ll come put a sign on the corner, but no one’s come to our door and talked to us.’”
Another of the incoming alderman’s aspirations is building up the town’s infrastructure in anticipation of the substantial residential growth expected in the next few years. Aspects like sidewalks, lighting, and increased public parking loom large, followed by improvements to the town’s library facility, more amenities, and a better night-life for residents visiting downtown.
“We want to prepare before people get here and be proactive,” he reasoned.
‘I’m a real simple person’
During his downtime from his work at Aetna, Crisp enjoys spending time with his sons and girlfriend Faith, who he gives credit to for the success of his campaign.
“She’s really been a big help to me – especially through my campaign,” he said. “I had a small team, but a very effective team. Through my campaign manager and her, she was like my secretary, my canvasser; she did about three or four different things for me. I don’t really think I could’ve done it without her.”
Together, he said, the two like to host dinners, preferring to simply be in the company of others.
“I’m a real simple person,” he notes. “I just like to have good friends and good family around.”
Soon being in the company of Gibsonville’s other elected officials, Crisp said he looks forward to combining his ideas and outlooks with those of his fellow aldermen.
“If we put all those together, we’ll do what’s best for the town, because the town is full of all kinds of people,” he said. “I think this group of people [at town hall], they’re really good at what they do and they really care about Gibsonville. So I just want to come in and do my part, and I think we’ll be fine.”