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Large field fills Salisbury City Council ballot

With three incumbents out of the race, Salisbury residents are quickly lining up to serve on the city council.

In the first of a two-week filing period, 12 people signed up for the race. Only one incumbent — Karen Alexander — has filed. Two candidates have council experience. Others have run unsuccessfully previously.

Salisbury’s rush of candidates follows statements by three incumbent council members that they wouldn’t run for re-election. In early June, Councilman Pete Kennedy, the longest currently serving board member, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Kennedy was followed by Mayor Pro Tempore Maggie Blackwell and Mayor Paul Woodson.

The number of candidates in 2015 isn’t unprecedented for the race, which includes five open positions. In 2009, for example, a total of 13 candidates filed for the city council race. However, the number is unusual. Since 2000, city council races most commonly included 9 candidates.

Salisbury’s council race included a relatively small number of candidates, by comparison, until Friday, when five people filed for the race. Two candidates filed for the race on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. No one filed on Thursday.

When compared to previous years, the field of 2015 Salisbury City Council candidates also represents a fairly diverse cross-section of Salisbury’s demographics. Five candidates are black. Seven are white. However, only two of the 13 are women.

Filing doesn’t officially end until Friday, July 17 at noon, making it possible for more candidates to join an already crowded field. Incumbent Councilman Brian Miller said he would run for re-election but hasn’t yet filed.

Issues mentioned as priorities by candidates include economic development, a reduction in crime, bolstering the prominence of the city’s fiber-optic system Fibrant and transparency.

As of Friday afternoon, the field of city council candidates included the following people:

• Alexander, an architect and business owner

• Ken Hardin, a consultant, community activist and Air Force veteran

• Constance Johnson, a Salisbury businesswoman

• Rip Kersey, a realtor and retired engineer

Kersey ran for city council in 2011 and finished within one percent of being elected.

• Mark Lewis, a senior vice president for Fidelity Bank and former city councilman

Lewis served on city council from 2003 to 2009.

• Former City Councilman Scott Maddox, who previously worked as a high school coach, teacher and Rowan County manager for the N.C. Department of Revenue

Maddox served on city council from 1993 to 2001.

• Todd Paris, a Salisbury-based attorney

• William Peoples, who serves on Rowan County’s Social Services Board and is the first vice president of the local NAACP

Peoples has run for the city council twice previously.

• Pastor Troy Russell, who teaches religious studies and serves as campus minister at Livingstone College

• W.J. Watkins, a funeral home attendant and manager of a cigar lounge

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.





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