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Levy says county government can get better if we think outside the box

Democratic commissioners candidate

Veleria Levy

Veleria Levy

By Josh Bergeron


SALISBURY — Rowan can do better than the current crop of county commissioners, says Democrat Veleria Levy.

Levy, a 45-year-old Kannapolis resident, is the lone Democrat running for county commissioner. She’s a senior account executive for Med Express / Avita Pharmacy, based in Salisbury. She serves as the second vice-chair of the state’s Democratic Party and previously served as the chairperson of the local party.

Her latest foray into politics is running for county commissioner. It’s her first shot at running for public office. If succesful, she would be the first black female elected to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and the first Democrat to win a spot on the board since Raymond Coltrain in 2008.

In an interview with the Salisbury Post, Levy mentioned another unique factor — if elected, she would be one of two county commissioners who live in southern Rowan. Commissioner Mike Caskey, who lives in the Enochville area, is the second.

Areas she says are most important include the usual suspects — education and economic development. She also sees improving public safety as a top priority.

Levy says the 2014 election of Greg Edds, Jim Greene and Judy Klusman to the Board of Commissioners improved the state of county government

“But, we can definitely make it better,” Levy said in an interview with the Salisbury Post. “Electing me to the Board of Commissioners is electing someone who is responsive to the needs of all citizens and not just a select few that check the box. To improve the county, we have to think outside of the box.”

On economic development, she briefly focused on the Rowan County Airport. In recent years, county commissioners have put a heavy focus on extending the length of the Rowan County Airport runway. Levy said she was surprised recently when she discovered that none of the county commissioners have called the office of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

On education, she said there are better uses of county funds than consolidating schools. That money could be better used if invested in existing schools, she said. County commissioners don’t have authority to make individual decisions about schools, but they are the funding source.

Public safety was one area Levy talked extensively about, saying it’s important to develop a policy ensuring people with mental or medical issues are treated fairly by law enforcement.

On her website, Levy has a page specifically dedicated to the issue. She references recent unrest in Charlotte as an example of what can happen between police and minorities.

One idea Levy suggests on her website is a psychological employment test for law enforcement to screen out people with “anger management issues or biases such as racism or homophobia.”

As part of her discussion on public safety issues, Levy also expressed support for an underway project to extend water lines to the Dukeville community.

When asked about current issues facing commissioners, Levy says she opposes continuing with the county’s federal prayer lawsuit. She said the county has spent “way too much time and money” on the prayer lawsuit. Rowan County has spent several thousand dollars to pay County Attorney Jay Dees. The county could also be forced to pay a significant sum of money if it loses the suit. However, commissioners are being represented in court at no cost by out-of-state attorneys.

When told about the free representation, Levy said “it’s still a waste of time.” Commissioners should just go with a moment of silence and pray to themselves, she said.

In recent years, commissioners have placed a major focus on improving general animal welfare and conditions at the animal shelter. They’ve also committed major sums of the county’s annual budget — $1 million in operating costs — to the animal shelter. Levy said she’s OK with that decision, but Rowan County commissioners need to implement in-house spay and neuter — a planned project that isn’t currently occurring.

Years after its purchase, the former Salisbury Mall — now West end Plaza — will continue to become a major recipient of county funds for upgrades and renovations. It has been used for some county offices and is scheduled to see more departments move in.

“We do have lots of space out there that we could use for out-of-the-box ideas,” she said.

She suggested allocating space to nonprofits or building activities for children inside of West End Plaza.

In November, Levy will face off against three other candidates for county commissioner — two Republicans and one Libertarian. The incumbent Republicans include Caskey and Commissioner Craig Pierce. Mark Lyerly is the Libertarian candidate.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.



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