Blackwell, Miller join City Council
By Shelley Smithssmith@salisburypost.com
When a woman handed Maggie Blackwell her “lucky scarf” at church Sunday, she didn’t realize just how lucky she’d be on election night.
“She told me I could only keep it a week, so it must be lucky,” said Blackwell.
In what’s become a recurring Salisbury City Council election night theme, current Mayor Susan Kluttz brought in the most votes with 2,365. Blackwell had the second-largest total with 1,924. Current Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson had 1,846.
Newcomer Brian Miller followed, with William “Pete” Kennedy securing the fifth seat. Councilman Mark Lewis fell 62 votes short of winning re-election, with a total of 1,508.
Others on the ballot finished in this order: Michael S. Young, 1,142; William C. Peoples Jr., 924; Carl C. Dangerfield, 462; Charles A. Black, 389; Benjamin Johnson, 456. There were 106 write-in votes.
“You’re always disappointed that you lost, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into it,” Lewis said. “I’m happy for Brian and Maggie, though. Brian has similar skill sets to me, and Maggie ran the best campaign I’ve ever seen.
“I think they’ll be great. They’ll bring fresh ideas to the council, which will be a good thing.”
Blackwell said she hated to see Lewis go and that she wished there were more than five spots.
On having the second-highest number of votes, Blackwell said she’s “thrilled.”
“I have to remind people that I didn’t get myself here, and that there were many people involved,” she said, noting that her husband, Jody, was a great force.
“I’ve learned that someone can criticize you and that doesn’t humble you. But when people give you trust, that’s humbling,” she said. “I’m going to have to work hard the next two years to earn that trust that so many people have given me.”
On placing second to Kluttz, Blackwell said she was “honored.”
“It’s very flattering. I think the world of Mayor Kluttz.”
Kluttz had praise for Blackwell, too.
“I realized that she (Blackwell) was a tremendous leader several years ago when she worked on the park for Fulton Heights,” Kluttz said. “I really admire the way she did her campaigning, door-to-door; she really took it seriously, and I was very impressed.
“We have worked closely with her in the past, so she’s been a part of our team,” Kluttz said.
Miller has also played a large role in different committees in Salisbury, such as the Planning Board, Empire Hotel and more, the mayor said.
“He got banks to partner together for the benefit of Salisbury, which is a great challenge,” said Kluttz. “He’s been a part of our team, too.”
She commented on Lewis’ loss.
“Mark has worked with us for all of our 12 years, and it’s sad because I know how hard he works,” she said.
She said the city has lost “two terrific council members” in Lewis and Bill Burgin, who didn’t seek re-election.
“When we held our dinner for Bill Burgin last week, we knew this was the end of a 12-year team. But we have two team players that are joining us, and they understand where we’re going and want to move forward with us.”
Kluttz said all candidates were positive and progressive, excited about the future, and she hopes to see their faces in committees and meetings.
Woodson said the city has a great new council. “I’m happy to be back on, but I’m sorry Mark Lewis didn’t get re-elected,” Woodson said. “He’s a hard worker. This was one of the toughest elections.
“We’ve got a sharp council and a very diverse council, and I’m proud of all the people who came out and ran, putting their necks on the line.”
Miller said the campaign “has been great.”
“There are a lot of qualified people, and it speaks well of our community that this many people are interested,” he said.
“I hope to continue the progress made recently between the city and the county,” he said. “I look forward to serving, to get in and do what we can to make progress.”
Many of the candidates who didn’t win said they’ll be back.
Charles Black, a critic of the city’s annexation policies, said he plans to run again in two years.
“I’m a victim of forced annexation, and if they’re going to annex you, doubling your taxes, they’re going to have to give you something in return in the first six months,” said Black. “Don’t put me in the city just to get my money.
“With the fiber to the home, it’s the same thing. They’re going to fall on their face. Virginia and Tennessee had it, and it didn’t work. It’s not going to work here, and then they’ll raise everyone’s taxes. For $38 million, at least put out a survey before a vote is made.”
Black said if he is elected in 2011, his first priority will be bringing more people to council meetings.
“Next time I’m going to put up a fight. The council needs a ‘no’ person. If anything will raise taxes and get into people’s pocketbooks, I at least want the citizens’ input.”
The youngest candidate, Blake Jarman, said the No. 1 focus needs to be bringing jobs into Salisbury and working on the budget.
“We need to make sure the city is spending everyone’s money correctly,” said Jarman. “And we need to bring jobs to Salisbury and help those who don’t have jobs to find them.”
Jarman said he plans on running again in 2011, “stronger than before.”
“I think the City Council can be a thriving force in people’s everyday lives,” he said. “I’m still on the residents’ side. Everyone needs proper representation.”
William Peoples said the council needs to focus on neighborhoods and infrastructure.
“We need to look at the neighborhoods and see what they need,” Peoples said. “Citizens who can’t make it to council should hold town hall meetings, and the council should go and hear their needs.”
Peoples also would like to see salary increases for city employees and see more diversity in hiring practices.
Carl Dangerfield said he is definitely running in 2011, “bigger and badder than ever.”
“I’m going to start working on my campaign this week,” said Dangerfield. “My No. 1 focus on my campaign will be to look at more quality across the city, and close the dividing lines.
“There’s a big division from the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ ”