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Field crowded in Salisbury City Council race

By Noelle Edwards
nedwards@salisburypost.com
Thirteen people are competing for five Salisbury City Council seats.
The candidates include four incumbents and nine, including a write-in, who would be new to council.
Bill Burgin is the only current council member not running again.
Susan Kluttz, Salisbury’s mayor the past 12 years, said there are projects she wants to finish, such as Fiber to the Home and promotion of the city’s relationship with Salisbury, England.
“I run on my record,” she said. “I guess people will either approve or disapprove of what I’ve done.”
Paul Woodson, mayor pro tem, is also seeking his seventh term. He owns Vogue Dry Cleaners on North Long Street. He said people want progress in Salisbury, and that takes money sometimes.
“We’re trying to make an effort to make things better,” he said.
William “Pete” Kennedy, running for a ninth term on the council, said he wants to see the completion of projects in process, such as Fiber to the Home and the Empire Hotel initiative, which Downtown Salisbury Inc. handles but City Council can have a role in supporting and providing street infrastructure for.
Mark Lewis is the newest member of City Council, first elected in 2003. Three recent projects he has had a hand in are Fiber to the Home, Empire Hotel project and creation of a Salisbury Tourism Development Authority.
The Empire Hotel is key to Salisbury’s future, he said. “This is one of our pivotal projects.” He said the city’s part in supporting the hotel’s development probably will be at its height in the next term.
Nine candidates are challenging the incumbents for the five council seats.
Charles Black works at Piedmont Correctional Institution. He decided to run because the area he lives in on Celtic Circle was annexed two years ago into the city, but he said his neighborhood isn’t taken care of like other areas of the city, despite paying city taxes. “We’re paying for it, but we’re not getting it,” he said.
Maggie Blackwell was raised in a family in which community involvement was expected. Her father was a reporter who covered the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery, Ala., and her mother was active in fighting for children’s educational needs. Blackwell has been active in Salisbury for years, working first with her neighborhood to raise money and work with the city to build Centennial Park.
“I consider myself the neighborhood lady,” she said.
Carl Dangerfield got interested in politics during the presidential election season last year. “I saw a lot of people had things to say,” he said.
Between that new interest and the fact that he wants to make a difference in his grandkids’ lives, he said, “Now is the time.” He is a detective with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Blake Jarman has lived in the city most of his life, and he said his passion for Salisbury is a big reason he is qualified for office. He said the council members all have served a long time ó some longer than a U.S. president is allowed to serve ó and he thinks he could provide a fresh perspective. He said some people have even given him the nickname “new blood.”
“Let’s put enthusiasm in our local government,” he said.
Benjamin Johnson is running for a government position to reduce government involvement in Salisbury. He said people who want to start a business face too many barriers imposed by the city, and he wants to reduce the obstacles, especially for small businesses.
He said the city should not be run like a business, concerning itself with profits and expansion. The goal, he said, should be to take the minimum amount of taxes necessary and rely on the free market.
Brian Miller has worked with various organizations ó Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Salisbury Inc., United Way ó that influence parts of the city. Becoming a member of City Council is the logical next step, he said. He said he has developed the skills he would need as a councilman in other organizations.
He said he doesn’t have an agenda for the city if he were to be elected. Rather, he sees his role as “moving the ball down the field.”
William Peoples has also worked on the city, about 15 years. “I bring a different perspective than most of the candidates,” he said, because he lives in the West End and has seen some of the issues minority and less fortunate communities experience.
His priorities in office would be fixing the inequality he sees, helping establish recreation for young people and should help repair what he called “blighted neighborhoods.”
Michael Young has lived in Salisbury 27 years and has held positions on many boards and committees in the city. He said he is able to look at situations objectively and to consider many people’s viewpoints in making a decision. He likes to plan and solve problems.
“It’s a challenge in a down economy … for municipalities to do anything new,” he said. “It’s more of a holding pattern. Times like this are a better time to plan for the future, to plan for better days, because it’s not always going to be like this.”
Sidney Roberts didn’t file in time to be listed on the ballot, so he started a write-in campaign to get his name out. He wants to pull together interest groups such as colleges and business owners to work as a team on creating more jobs for Salisbury.
He said a key to Salisbury’s growth is to treat it as a city, rather than a town. “In order to meet the challenges of today, we must be proactive to bring the changes that we need,” he said.

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