‘City Hall really is the people’s house’: Heggins wants citizens to be more involved with council decisions
SALISBURY — Al Heggins, a Rowan county native, knows that Salisbury’s city government is structured around the City Council.
“The piece that we don’t talk about enough is the fact that, because the city manager serves at the pleasure of the City Council, we don’t talk enough about the fact that the City Council serves at the pleasure of the people,” said Heggins, who is running for a seat on the council in the Nov. 7 election.
Heggins said that should she be elected, she will work hard to make “the people” a priority.
“When there’s a big decision that has to be made that’s going to impact the daily lives of residents and people living here in Salisbury, the voices of Salisbury residents need to be heard. They need to be a part of that conversation,” Heggins said. “It shouldn’t be just at the public hearing when it’s almost time to take a vote.”
Heggins said that as it stands now, the public is only really heard from when the City Council is near the end of its decision-making process, after the council members have already done their research and thought about the issue.
“So maybe there’s a public hearing — and there should be a public hearing — and residents get a chance to come in and voice their opinions but there’s no real dialogue,” Heggins said.
Part of Heggins’ inspiration for collaboration comes from her work with Women for Community Justice, of which she is a founding member. In the past four months, the organization has held five Stop the Violence summits during which residents have come together with police and elected officials to discuss things that contribute to city violence.
“What’s going to influence my policymaking are the voices of the people, as it should be,” Heggins said. “Because City Hall really is the people’s house.”
Heggins, 53, is the founder of the Human Praxis Institute. She previously worked for the city of High Point.
Contact Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.
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