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Hardin says that he will take a “strong, decisive approach”

By Jessica Coates
jessica.coates@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Kenny Hardin said that, in his frequent interactions with citizens in person and online, he has noticed that some citizens lack what he calls “cultural competency.”

Hardin defined cultural competency, broadly, as “understanding and appreciating and showing respect for various backgrounds.”

“There’s a difference between people who don’t have cultural competency and not caring about cultural competency,” Hardin said. “And I think that there are some people in this community…who don’t feel like they have to understand cultural competency.”

That is why, Hardin said, he frequently “shuts it off” when citizens direct what he considers to be hateful speech toward him.

“I will challenge anybody to go back and find where I have initially been hateful, disrespectful, calling people out,” Hardin said. “Now, asked the same question, ‘Have you ever been disrespectful, passionate in responding to those people who…don’t care (about cultural competency)? Yes, and I will continue to be.”

But, Hardin said, he does not hold grudges against citizens who treat him with what he sees as disrespect.

“I want people to understand that … you can sit here and call me the most vile, contemptible, hateful, racial epithet and I would straighten you. But then, if you called me the next day and said, ‘Hey, I have a code (enforcement problem),’ it’s done. And I’m not going to hold it over people’s heads,” Hardin said.

Hardin said that he feels that he gets “unfairly pegged” because of the way that he expresses himself.

“What you have to understand culturally is that there are some people, specifically in the black culture, who are passionate. People mistake our passion for anger,” Hardin said. “I am not an angry person; I’m passionate.”

On public comment

Hardin said that the current City Council’s strict adherence to rules is impeding citizens’ ability to speak during public comment.

“When you silence a person’s voice, when you take options and alternatives away from people, the next thing they’re going to do is act out. That’s what we’re seeing at City Council,” Hardin said.

He said that, should he be reelected, he would take all constraints off public comment periods.

“I’m going to have a time limit, but when that ‘ding, ding, ding’ (happens), I don’t want (to cut people off). No, keep talking, if you’re saying something relevant,” Hardin said. “I don’t think we should be so bound by rules.”

On recruiting business

Hardin said that the city cannot focus on business development until the crime and drug problems are solved.

But, he said, when crime is reduced, he wants to see a shift away from manufacturing industries.

“I want to get into technology and biotechnology,” Hardin said. “We’re on a rail line. We have access to the Yadkin River. We’ve got access to three interstates. We should be heavily recruiting, using that as a marketing advantage.”

He said that the city also needs to “change the mindset and focus” when it comes to the kinds of businesses they’re recruiting.

“It’s great that we got Chipotle and Buffalo Wild Wings and all of these restaurants coming, but we’ve got to get out of that mindset. We’ve got enough places to eat in Salisbury,” Hardin said. “We’ve got to provide some jobs that bring enough income to eat in these places.”

On crime

Hardin said that, should he be reelected, he would take a “strong, decisive approach” to reduce crime.

He said that, among other things, he would want to instate a midnight curfew for children under the age of 18.

“If you’re not leaving a job, if you’re not involved in an extracurricular activity and you’re in middle or high school, what are you doing out at 1 a.m.?” Hardin asked.

He said that he also would want to have “specific and targeted” law enforcement in the parts of the city where the most violence occurs.

“Now I’m not saying infringing on people’s rights but, if you’ve got a neighborhood in the city where you see all of the gun violence and all of the crime, we need to go in that area and we need to specifically target those areas,” Hardin said.

And, to those who may find that unfair, Hardin asked, “Do you want to continue to live in fear? Do you want to continually dodge bullets, or are you upset about me trying to fix the problem?”

Hardin said he would also want to bring in outside help to get to the root of Salisbury’s crime problem. 

Contact Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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