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John Struzick: ‘I think that I can do something about it’

SALISBURY — John Struzick has never run for or held public office.

But he says the experience he’s had in other areas would serve him well as a member of the Salisbury City Council.

“I’ve worked with six or seven different companies. I’ve worked with small and big companies … worked in prison ministries. And I have a pretty good talent of bringing people together,” Struzick said. “I’m going to say it’s my passion to do that kind of stuff.”

He said his job as a manufacturing financial manager “pays the bills,” but that mediation and bringing people together is what inspires him.

He’s not much of a talker and more of a doer, which would help him get things done faster than current council members, he said.

Struzick cited the special-events permit process that came up at the Oct. 3 council meeting.

“I like to sit down and get to it. That’s one thing that is frustrating, that I couldn’t really imagine. (Council members) were saying they’d already worked for 10 months. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, how long does it take?’” Struzick said.

He said there is a chance that he is “just kidding myself.”

“I might get in there and find out it’s a lot harder than I thought,” Struzick said. “But I think that I can do something about it.”

On supporting schools

Struzick said the City Council needs to have stronger ties to the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, starting with having a liaison on the board.

“I doubt that they would make (the council member) a voting member of the board, but (the council member) could go and represent the council there and then take whatever notes and bring that back,” Struzick said.

He said from that position, the City Council might have a greater influence over how the school system operates.

If he were given the chance to offer suggestions to the school board, he would support the consolidation of schools to better serve the number of students in the Rowan-Salisbury system.

“Do we need to be maintaining 35 properties? I don’t think we do,” Struzick said. “I think you’ll see the board make an effort to consolidate.”

He said there is a significant number of empty seats, which means the schools aren’t running at full capacity.

On Fibrant

“If Fibrant is salable, it’s salvageable,” Struzick said. “And, if we can salvage it, we ought to.”

He said he is a proponent of Fibrant but that, so far, it has been “severely mismanaged.”

“There is a difference between business and government,” Struzick said. “To try to treat it like another piece of government — they’re going to say it’s a utility but, I’m sorry, it’s not a utility. It’s got lots of competition.”

He switched to Fibrant from Spectrum several months ago and he remembers seeing Spectrum ads frequently. He asked why Fibrant couldn’t be similarly advertised.

“You’ve got to spend money to make money,” Struzick said. “My whole career has been in business, and I’ve put together multimillion-dollar budgets. And at the end of the day, if you don’t have more money in your pocket than when you started, you’re not doing it right.”

He said some ways the city could effectively “spend money to make money” include having free Wi-Fi spots around town and putting a Fibrant store in one of the government-owned buildings downtown.

On recruiting business

Struzick said he would make working with Rowan EDC — formerly called RowanWorks — a priority when trying to recruit business to Salisbury.

“I would work with (Rowan EDC) to develop (incentives) packages. Anybody who thinks you can get anything to come without incentive, they’re just not with the program. Everybody in the country wants those businesses,” Struzick said. “We shouldn’t write (businesses) a check to come, but as a company would demonstrate that they’re investing in us, we should do the same.”

Struzick said that as an employee of a successful small business — Innospec Performance Chemicals — he knows what businesses look for when they’re trying to relocate.

As someone who has worked in manufacturing, he would prioritize recruiting manufacturing industries. But he said that, more than anything, he wants to support “homegrown” businesses.

“Anything we can do to make our local businesses do better. … Their 10 jobs are just as good as any other 10 jobs,” Struzick said.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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