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Only 10 votes separate top contenders in Salisbury election

City Council vote totals

Here are the totals after Tuesday’s count. The top five will be elected to the council:

• Al Heggins, 2,169.

• David Post, 2,159.

• Karen Alexander, 1,792.

• Tamara Sheffield, 1,767.

• Brian Miller, 1,713.

• P.J. Ricks, 1,539.

• Kenny Hardin, 1,489.

• John Struzick, 1,099.

• Latasha Wilks, 956.

• Leda Belk, 923.

• Todd Paris, 795.

• Rodney Queen, 717.

• Ryan Evans, 367.

SALISBURY — In a back room of the Rowan County Board of Elections office, about a dozen people gathered Tuesday to await the final tallies from the 2017 municipal elections.

The group included the ballot leader, Al Heggins; her husband, Isaac; and supporters from the Rowan County Democratic Party and Rowan Concerned Citizens.

“It’s called ‘Al’s army,’” said Geoffrey Hoy, chairman of the county Democrats, jest clear in his voice.

Heggins shot him a look.

“Can I sneak out now?” she says, joking as well.

The light-hearted jabs helped sooth an otherwise tense atmosphere. In unofficial returns from last Tuesday’s Salisbury City Council election, a mere 12 votes separated Heggins from the second-place finisher, incumbent Councilman David Post.

The Board of Elections met Tuesday to process the remaining provisional and absentee ballots. An additional 49 absentee ballots were counted. Eight provisional ballots were removed from the totals because they could not be verified.

On the final count, the margin separating the top two contenders narrowed only slightly: Heggins finished with 2,169 votes, and Post finished with 2,159.

Mayor Karen Alexander finished third in the tally, followed by challenger Tamara Sheffield and incumbent Councilman Brian Miller.

Incumbent Kenny Hardin finished seventh among the 13 candidates. Mayor Pro-Tem Maggie Blackwell did not seek re-election.

The news was met with cheers and a few celebratory hugs.

The five candidates elected to the City Council will choose a new mayor from among themselves. Traditionally, the mayor has been the candidate who got the most votes in the elections. If that tradition holds, Heggins would become Salisbury’s first African-American woman mayor.

Heggins said Tuesday that while the weight of the milestone has yet to sink in, she knows her personal victory reflects the victories of activists and advocates past and present.

“I’m so thankful to all of the people in the past moving forward that have worked to see days like today. We honor them and their hard work,” she said. “I feel thankful to all those people who are dedicated to creating and sustaining harmony.”

Heggins hopes to bring the new and historically diverse City Council together to work for the community.

“I’m hopeful now that the numbers are in that our council is going to move together as a team, that  … we’re going to work hard as a team and that we’re going to make sure that the public feels like they’re part of this team,” Heggins said.

“It’s not about the vision and the idea of one person or five people. It’s really about how we’re going to bring together all these voices to make that happen,” she said. “I feel confident that the City Council will honor the traditions of our city and make decisions that reflect what is best for our citizens.”

 

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