East Spencer candidate King criticizes board, wants ‘hope’ for town

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST Titus King is a candidate for the East Spencer board of alderman.
JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST Titus King is a candidate for the East Spencer board of alderman.

SALISBURY — Railing against everything from the police department to economic development, East Spencer board candidate Titus King Sr. said he hopes his second stint on the board sparks “hope” for the town.

King, 48, is hoping for one of the three open East Spencer alderman seats. But the once controversial town official acknowledged that some might not like his honesty.

“I am an honest person. I say what I mean and I mean what I say,” King said. “I don’t mean to dishonor anybody but the thing is that I just believe that in a day like this if we don’t have young — and I’ll say it this way — young, black leaders willing to stand up and get their hands dirty and do what’s necessary, even to the point of speaking out against wrong, I believe the city of East Spencer will never come up.”

King was on the board in the early 2000s and was well-known for calling out several town officials during a scandal involving the town’s treasury. Several of those officials were later convicted in federal court.

Following his alderman term, King ran and lost in mayoral races in ’05 and ’07.

King said he didn’t have any plans of running again until Alderman Curtis Cowan called and urged him in July.

“One of the aldermen called me up and asked me, begged me, actually, to run,” King recalled. “His concern was that there were so many things going on that he felt like he needed help. Since I had already been in there, he felt like I would be a great help, dealing with issues that were going on. He felt that I am one that will tell the truth.”

Developing the town’s park and pool are priorities for King, he said, along with spotlighting some of the town’s problems.

King said the town is also considering selling its water tower — something King is adamant against.

“The way the city is headed and the direction they are headed, I mean, it’s a bad idea. Frankly, I really don’t feel nobody at this moment really has a vision,” King said. “If you had a vision you’d know how to bring people together to work your vision. As leaders, we can’t have animosity against people because people can help us. Just ’cause you’re a leader doesn’t mean you have all the ideas.”

King harped on the need for economic development, citing the need for keeping the water tower.

“The town is dying,” he said. “The banks are practically giving away things done there because of the way the town is ran. There’s no hope in this town right now.”

King also criticized the town’s handling of former Police Chief Darren Westmoreland’s termination, calling the ordeal “a cover-up.”

Westmoreland was fired last month after a Post investigation detailed current and former officers’ accusations against Westmoreland.

The town board met to discuss the Post’s article in closed session and promptly fired the chief following the discussion.

In the story, officers accused the chief of negligent investigations, including in a 2011 homicide when the department called off assistance from the State Bureau of Investigation and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.

“First you had leaders in there defending him, now they had to go back and bite the things they were defending,” King said. “Now they can say they didn’t hire these people, but they are the leaders. They can’t hide behind these people and say these are the fall guys.”

King, an East Spencer native, is a graduate of North Rowan High School. He is the father of six, three boys and three girls, and is an elder and head pastor at The Glorious Emmanuel Pentecostal Church on North Long Street.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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