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Rodney Queen wants next City Council to work as a team

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of articles taking a closer look at Salisbury City Council candidates.

SALISBURY — Rodney Queen says people have been asking him for years to run for a seat on the Salisbury City Council.

But he never wanted to before this year.

“I felt like I could better serve our City Council by providing them good information and reliable information through research of working on the boards and commissions,” Queen said. “But the current City Council just continues to get our city too far out of balance.”

Queen said that should he be elected, he wants to promote better chemistry among council members.

“We need to work better as a team. We can’t be divided, because there’s only five of us and we need five of us to make positive decisions. We’ve got to get along,” Queen said.

He said he’s seen councils work well together in the past and he wants to return to that.

“We’re going to always have divisions in voting; you’ve got to respect the other person’s decision. If there’s a 3-2 vote, then the other two have to respect the decision that the others made,” Queen said.

To facilitate that respect, council members need to be ready to communicate with each other, he said.

“If there’s something that you don’t like about me or I don’t like about you, it doesn’t need to come out in the council meeting,” Queen said.

On crime

To lower the crime rate, the city first needs to lower its poverty rate, Queen said.

“This is actually fueling our crime rate. Our crime rate is high because we don’t have properly trained children and students to go into the workforce,” Queen said.

He said people forget that the children who are “left behind” in school become children of the taxpayers, “because we have to deal with the crime level that we see from those kids.”

Queen supports the council’s decision to raise pay for police officers.

“But we’re not going to solve the crime situation by throwing police officers at it,” Queen said. “That’s not the solution. The solution is better education and promoting better jobs.”

Because the Police Department is understaffed, officers only have time to be reactive rather than proactive, he said.

On recruiting business

Queen said the current council has put too much effort into Salisbury’s downtown.

“I don’t think downtown is our best recruiting tool,” he said. “I want to continue to support downtown, but I don’t want to put all of our eggs in that basket because it’s apparently not working.”

Instead of trying to have a “vibrant downtown,” he wants to have a more vibrant Salisbury.

“We’re going to have to look at the city as a whole. It’s not just downtown,” he said. “So we’ve got to promote development in all areas.”

He said downtown does have one “albatross” that he supports: the Empire Hotel.

“That is a burden on the city, but it can be a great asset for the city. And that’s the last major hurdle that we need to do for downtown,” Queen said.

Even if big companies do come to Salisbury, they recruit most of their workers from other cities, he said.

“So what keeps them from hiring from Salisbury? I don’t think we have a lot of qualified workers. They’re pulling from Charlotte or Concord,” Queen said. “So that’s why we need to work on our education.”

On schools

Queen said it is unfortunate that the Salisbury-Rowan school system does not fall under the jurisdiction of the City Council.

“But what we’ve got to do as a council is push more and work closer with the county commissioners to see (what) we can change,” he said.

Queen wants to see more support for after-school programs.

“So that those kids who have to go home to a cold home that may have a single mother working second shift, they’ve got a place where they can go socialize and do their homework and have some adult guidance,” Queen said.

He also wants to see greater support for programs for 4-year-olds, which he said is the time when a child’s learning capacity is strongest.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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