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Three incumbents bow out in Salisbury City Council race

Candidates who filed for public office on Tuesday

• Roy Bentley for Salisbury City Council

• Brian Campbell for Faith Alderman

• Scott Benfield for Spencer Mayor

• Constance Johnson for Salisbury City Council

• Roger Safrit for re-election to Landis Board of Aldermen

Political turnover is guaranteed in the 2015 Salisbury City Council race, where three incumbents won’t seek re-election.

Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson on Tuesday officially announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Woodson joined Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell and Councilman Pete Kennedy in not seeking another term. Woodson has served 18 years on the city council, the last four as mayor. Kennedy is the longest serving council member with nearly 22 years of experience. Blackwell was elected to the city council in 2009.

Woodson said his reasons for not seeking re-election include spending time with his daughter on a book tour and focusing on family matters. The hours involved with being mayor combined with hours dedicated to running his dry cleaning business would make family time rare following a successful re-election bid, Woodson said.

He made the decision Sunday night after speaking with family members.

“Knowing that my time on council is coming to an end is bittersweet, but I feel confident that what we have put in place over the past 18 years will benefit Salisbury for years to come,” Woodson said in a prepared statement. “Thank you again for all of the wonderful memories. It has been an honor to serve this city.”

N.C. Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz, who preceded Woodson as mayor, said Woodson was dedicated to improving the city and was continuously committed to working for its residents.

“He was always an enthusiastic team player on a progressive council,” Kluttz said. “He always tried very hard to solve the people’s problems. And whenever individuals would call him, whatever problem they were having, Paul would try his hardest to solve them.”

Council members Karen Alexander and Brian Miller are both expected to run for re-election, but neither had filed for the race as of Tuesday afternoon.

Computer engineer Roy Bentley; Salisbury businesswoman Constance Johnson; bank executive Mark Lewis, who served on the council from 2003 to 2009; and attorney Todd Paris had filed for the race by Tuesday afternoon.

West End activist Ken Hardin declared a bid for city council in April, but hasn’t formally filed for the race.

The filing period will end on July 17 at noon.

In his statement, Woodson listed several measures of progress accomplished by the current and recent groups of city council members, including: a doubled fund balance, the creation of the city’s one-stop shop, new central office for the Rowan-Salisbury School System, consolidation of the 911 center, new director of Fibrant and new city manager.

When asked about the city’s progress during the previous 20 years, Kluttz noted the fact that Fibrant — the city’s municipal fiber-optic network —  began during Woodson’s term on the council. Kluttz was mayor when the council conceived Fibrant and began operating the service.

“At the time, because of economic development goals, we were looking for a way to be competitive,” Kluttz said. “It’s been and will continue to be a wonderful advantage for Salisbury.”

She also noted the creation of downtown as a historic district and the creation of Salisbury’s community development corporation during Woodson’s and her terms on the council.

“The progress we have made in this short time is so positive and a sure indicator of the direction that Salisbury is heading,” Woodson said in his prepared statement. “While I will continue to be a part of Salisbury’s growth, revitalization and resurgence in other ways, I feel that it is time for me to focus on my family.”

For weeks, Woodson said he debated whether to run. If Salisbury’s mayor was decided separately, Woodson said he would have sought a spot on the city council. Currently, council members vote on the mayor position after being sworn in.

All other municipalities in Rowan County vote on mayor as a separate office on ballots.

Woodson wouldn’t rule out the possibility of running for public office in the future, but said he’s taking a break for now.

 

 

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