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City Council candidates use public comment time to express their concerns

By Mark Wineka
mwineka@salisburypost.com
Let the politicking begin.
Incumbent Salisbury City Council members seeking re-election have twice-a-month meetings from now until Nov. 3 to use as a forum for their political views.
Turns out, some of the newcomers challenging for their seats have the same thing in mind.
During a public comment period Tuesday, when citizens are given 3 minutes to address council, William Peoples and Charles Black used the time to their advantage.
They are among the 13 candidates, including four of the five incumbents, who are seeking election this year to council.
Peoples distributed photographs of areas in Salisbury where grass is growing out of the sidewalks or asphalt and complained about the appearance problems along streets such as Horah, Long, Fulton and Brenner.
“I wonder what’s being done about it” he said.
While the appearance of the downtown is put on a pedestal, shouldn’t the same attention be given to surrounding neighborhoods, Peoples asked.
He also told council about 20 street lights that aren’t working “in some very delicate neighborhoods.”
Peoples said city employees working 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily can’t find out which lights aren’t working. They need to go out at night to find out which lights are out, he suggested.
“People feel safer with street lights on,” Peoples said.
Black also had an issue with street lights.
He lives in the Westwood subdivision, which was part of a big city annexation two years ago.
Black said he and his neighborhood petitioned for city street lights a year ago and are still waiting.
Overall, Westwood residents have been paying city taxes for two years with nothing to show for it except new speed-limit signs, Black said.
Another City Council candidate, Blake Jarman, spoke at a public hearing earlier in the meeting. He expressed his support for a new Taco Bell planned near the intersection of Jake Alexander Boulevard and N.C. 150.
City Manager David Treme said city crews will do their best to address the overgrown grass brought to council’s attention by Peoples. “I think he brought some valid things,” Treme said.
As for street lights, Treme said the city has to work through Duke Energy, and it is doing that “as fast as we can.”
The city staff plans an information session for council candidates at 5 p.m. Aug. 6 at City Hall. Staff members will provide information on the city’s form of government and all the services the city provides.
Invitations and agendas for the meeting went out today.
All five seats on City Council are up for election Nov. 3 to two-year terms.
Councilman Bill Burgin is not seeking re-election.
The 13 candidates are Black, Peoples, Jarman, Maggie Blackwell, Carl Dangerfield, Benjamin Johnson, William “Pete” Kennedy, Susan Kluttz, Mark Lewis, Brian Miller, Wes Thompson, Paul Woodson and Michael Young.

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