City Council members take oath of office

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SALISBURY — A large group of family and friends watched William “Pete” Kennedy place his hand on the Bible Tuesday for an historic 11th time when he took the oath of office as a Salisbury city councilman.
Kennedy is the longest consecutively serving City Council member and is tied with the late L.F. Cox as the only councilman to serve 11 terms. Cox’s terms were not consecutive.
Kennedy’s children flew in to witness their father make history, son Ray from Chicago and daughter Jacqueline from New York.
Uncharacteristically, Kennedy offered lengthy remarks. He thanked Jesus and his wife Hazel, as well as family, friends and supporters.
He also thanked residents of Salisbury for their “vote of confidence” and said serving on City Council is “a position I cherish and don’t take lightly or for granted.”
Kennedy urged residents to continue to support the City Council.
“It’s because of you that we are here,” he said. “It’s not what we do, it’s what we do for our citizens.”
All incumbents including Brian Miller were re-elected last month, and Karen Alexander, who was appointed to the council, won her first election.
As expected, Paul Woodson was chosen by fellow council members to serve another two years as mayor. Woodson was the top vote-getter in November, but just barely.
He beat runner-up Maggie Blackwell by 23 votes, and council members chose Blackwell to continue serving as mayor pro tem.
“This city has become so much stronger. Everybody has worked hard,” Woodson said. “I’ve been blessed to have a great council.”
Woodson thanked Blackwell for her service. Blackwell serves as City Council liaison to more groups than any other member.
Woodson listed what he said were improvements in the past two years, including a balanced budget, Fibrant breaking even, a stronger downtown, the West End Transformation Plan and new parks and recreation management.
He also laid out a broad agenda for the next two years, saying City Council members need to interact more with residents.
“We need to have better relations with citizens in Salisbury,” Woodson said, suggesting council members attend more events and greet people.
He said the city needs to continue working with the Rowan County Economic Development Commission to recruit jobs and must maintain a business-friendly development process. City Council should support downtown, strengthen neighborhoods and expand the tax base to pay for improvements ranging from pothole repairs to additional police officers, Woodson said.
In her comments, Blackwell thanked her fellow council members for professionalism, courtesy, wisdom and mutual respect.
“We are all such different people,” she said. “Each of us brings our own gift today.”
Blackwell said the newly re-elected City Council members are following examples set by their predecessors, several of whom attended the ceremony.
“It is upon your shoulders that we stand,” Blackwell said. “… We strive to lead in a manner befitting your legacy.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.