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Kennedy bows out of Salisbury City Council

Councilman Pete Kennedy has broken the ice. He announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this fall to Salisbury City Council, thus assuring the five-member board of at least one new face.

Which incumbent will be next to announce his or her intentions?

This is quite a change for Kennedy. He’s the longest-serving member of the council, having been first elected in 1993. To put that in perspective, Bill Clinton was in his first year as president in 1993. Salisbury’s first female mayor, Margaret Kluttz, won re-election and Rowan County voters OK’d a $44 million school bond issue. Newton Cohen was chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and the Salisbury Post’s Newsmaker of the Year.

There was no YouTube, Facebook or Twitter — and there weren’t lots of websites, compared to today.

But some things echo through the years, like the frustrations that spur people to run for office. Kennedy got fed up with watching the comings and goings of a crack house across from his realty office. When he complained to police, the chief suggested it would be wiser for Kennedy to move his office than try to fight drug activity. Instead, Kennedy ran for council.

The only black member of City Council for all those years, Kennedy seldom presented himself as a spokesman for the black community. Nevertheless, his subtle efforts for minorities dramatically improved the diversity of the city’s boards and commissions. On the financial side of governing, Kennedy has been conservative and business-minded, usually the first to voice opposition to tax increases and fee hikes. But he stayed out of controversy by maintaining a calm and low-key demeanor, hearing people out before making a decision and voting with what he believed most people wanted.

Filing for City Council and other municipal races starts at 8 a.m. July 6 and ends at noon July 17. Salisbury already has one candidate. Kenneth Hardin has announced his candidacy and filed organizational papers with the Board of Elections.

As others contemplate whether to run, they have to know the job takes a servant’s heart. Council members like Kennedy put countless hours into studying city issues, talking with constituents, attending meetings and searching for solutions. What looks like a thankless job, though, is also an honor. If you want to serve the city and your fellow citizens, sign up next month at the Rowan County Board of Elections.

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