Editorial: Top priorities for Salisbury
Now that the hoopla of swearing in Mayor Al Heggins and the new City Council is over, let’s focus on what this group of leaders can do for Salisbury. Here are issues we’d like to see the council address to improve quality of life for all people:
• Make our streets safe. See that the city continues to rebuild the Salisbury Police Department — both in filling its ranks and re-establishing trust in the community. Officers need to know they have the full support and confidence of the entire City Council. If any council members feel they can’t give that, they need to work with the city manager and chief of police to address their concerns.
• Work out a lease or management deal to get Fibrant on track. The prior City Council has done the groundwork for this. Also, establish a big downtown presence for the municipal broadband network, as Mayor Pro Tem David Post has suggested, with a storefront, hotspot and large-screen TV.
• Fight poverty with literacy. Use the bully pulpit to spread the message that if you read, you can succeed. Support literacy initiatives from the day children are born, and push to get children into preschool and pre-K. Devise creative ways to support public schools in the city. Promote literacy programs for adults as well and make this a city of lifelong learners — people ready and eager to work.
• Help struggling families and neighborhoods. Expand the Blockwork concept to improve entire neighborhoods by rehabilitating houses, fixing sidewalks and improving signage. Make neighborhood revitalization truly holistic; determine which services families in those neighborhoods need and connect them with the many resources local agencies offer.
• Breathe new life into downtown. Support Bell Tower Green, development of the Empire Hotel, improved downtown parking and more.
• Study alternative methods for choosing the mayor and structuring the council. It’s time for the voters to choose the mayor directly from candidates who declare for that office.
• Get public input every step of the way, not just through mandated public hearings but also through active community outreach. Make people a priority — all people — so there’s no doubt you hear their concerns and will act upon them.