Salisbury City Council members undecided about re-election bids

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

Salisbury City Council elections are this year, and as of now all current council members say they haven’t decided whether they will run for re-election.

Each council member said he or she will wait until the filing deadline approaches this summer before making a decision. Various factors go into their decisions, they said, including family, business and how they think the city is doing.

Mayor Paul Woodson, who’s been on the council since the 1990s and became mayor in 2011, said he hasn’t given the idea of running again much thought.

He said he enjoys politics and public service. “It’s the art of compromise,” he said about his role as a council member.

Woodson said when the time comes to decide, he’ll factor in the health of the city, his family life — he has a 3-year-old grandson — and how things are going at his dry cleaning business.

He said public safety and property values are normally a big deal with voters.

He feels really good about the direction the city is heading and thinks Salisbury’s relationship with the new county commissioners will bring positive results.

“I really predict in 2019 the city and county will be booming,” Woodson said.

Councilman Pete Kennedy is in his 22nd year on the council and said he still enjoys serving the citizens. He said the council’s annual retreat usually gives him some direction on whether he’ll run again.

He said he also waits until later in the year to decide in case any big issues arise.

“I’ll see how the city is going and whether my services are needed again,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell, who joined council after being elected in 2009,  said she committed to her family that she’ll never automatically run again.

“It’s awfully early,” she said, when asked if she’d made a decision yet.

When the time comes, she said, she’ll sit down with her husband and discuss whether she should or shouldn’t run again, adding the health of the city and the political atmosphere will be factors in her choice.

The city’s five council seats are up for grabs every two years. Whoever gets the most votes is appointed mayor.

Looking at past election data, if someone wants to be on city council, they need 1,500 votes. For mayor, 2,000 votes will win the seat.

Woodson got 1,953 votes in 2013.

With around 20,000 registered voters, turnout for city elections is very low, ranging between 12 percent and 15 percent in recent years.

Councilman Brian Miller hasn’t decided if he’ll run again, but if he had to guess he’d say he likely will be on the ballot come November.

He works for BB&T Bank and has three children — his oldest one just started college. He said he will pray over his decision to run again and discuss it with his wife and family.

Miller is on his third term and said solving problems is what’s most important to him as a council member. And he enjoys doing it.

“This is one of those things that you try to do the best job that you can,” Miller said, adding he thinks council is doing a good job advocating for the people.

He said neighborhood activism seems to be a big deal in the city right now and could play a role in this year’s elections.

Karen Alexander was appointed to city council after Susan Kluttz vacated her seat in early 2013 to take a position in Gov. McCrory’s administration.  She said she promised the council she’d run for election at least once, which she did in 2013.

With her promise fulfilled, Alexander said her decision to run again this time around will be much more comprehensive.

“This is a very serious commitment,” she said about being on the council. It involves a lot of time and energy, she said.

Whether she’ll run again will depend on who else is interested in running. She said the community needs candidates who are dedicated and not just in it for the politics.

Alexander, an architect, said she has to weigh her family needs and business when deciding whether to run.

“It’s a big decision,” she said.

Contact Reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.