Candidates give final statements in advance of Tuesday’s election

Published 12:15 am Sunday, November 1, 2015

Salisbury’s record-breaking city council race is in its home stretch.

A total of 16 candidates — more than any other race in Rowan County Board of Elections history — are vying for a council spot. Three of five incumbents are running for re-election, leaving two spots up for grabs.

Since mid-July, the end of the municipal filing period, candidates have appeared at events, hosted fundraisers and participated in a number of forums across Salisbury. Candidates have presented a number of ideas about Salisbury’s broken policies and bright spots in the city’s future.

Following a string of gang-related shootings in September, crime rocketed to the top of topics talked about by candidates. Community policing is one popular solution that’s been mentioned. A few candidates — Todd Paris, William Peoples and Jeff Watkins — have explicitly mentioned firing Police Chief Rory Collins as a way to improve the police department and, perhaps, crime rates.

A select group of challengers have lashed out at candidates for past decisions and operations of city government, including Fibrant.

Transparency has been a topic of conversation, but none have questioned the mutual termination of former city manager Doug Paris — the son of Todd Paris — which occurred without explicit reasoning given by city officials.

The 2015 Salisbury City Council race has truly been a symbol of the 21st century, with significant amounts of discussion about future ideas occurring through candidates’ private or public Facebook pages. Nearly all candidates have used his or her Facebook page as a way to present proposals or ideas.

A significant number of voters, more than 1,000, took part in early voting for the Salisbury City Council race. The final city council composition will be determined Tuesday, election day. Council candidates will then elect a mayor among themselves. It’s unlike any other municipality in Rowan County, but typically the mayor position goes to the council member who received the most votes.

Council candidate David Post is among the only one who has explicitly said he’d support a change to a mayor elected by Salisbury voters.

During the course of the Salisbury City Council campaign, the Salisbury Post has written individual stories about Fibrant, crime and a number of city council forums. In advance of Tuesday’s election, the Post asked all candidates the same three questions — if elected or re-elected, what’s the single most important thing you could do as a member of the city council, what could you do as a city council member to affect crime rates in Salisbury and why should voters pick you when they are voting for city council.

All but two candidates — Stephen Arthur and Constance Johnson — responded with answers. Johnson said she could not respond to the emailed questions due to an urgent family situation.

Answers from candidates are included in the accompanying charts.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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