City Council to discuss separate mayoral race
By Liz Moomey
SALISBURY — The Salisbury City Council will discuss election reform at the request of Mayor Pro Tem David Post when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The meeting will be held at the Salisbury Civic Center, at 315 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. S., because of problems with the air conditioning system in the council chambers at City Hall.
A committee has held several meetings to discuss the election setup, including whether the election of a mayor should be separate from the council election and whether council terms should be four years instead of two. The consensus is that any changes wouldn’t take effect until the 2021 municipal election.
Changes could come through a resolution by the City Council or through a referendum for city voters on the 2019 ballot.
“I think we should have a separate mayoral election,” Post said. “I don’t think we should change anything else.”
He said there have been multiple “accidental mayors,” naming Susan Klutz and Paul Woodson. He said he is not referring to current Mayor Al Heggins, who was the top vote-getter in her first run for City Council in 2017.
Neighboring municipalities, including China Grove, Landis, Spencer and Kannapolis, have separate mayoral elections.
Post said being mayor is almost a full-time job. He said some previous mayors have worked 30 to 50 hours a week.
The mayor has to be someone who wants the job and has the time and energy to do it, he says.
He favors letting voters decide in a referendum whether the mayoral election should be separate.
In other business:
• After several closed sessions, the City Council will be provided an update on the Empire Hotel redevelopment project.
Bob Jessup and Ashley Anderson of the Sanford Holshouser law firm will present possible incentives for the project.
Larissa Harper, executive director of Downtown Salisbury Inc., said the project continues to move forward with Britt Weaver, the developer with Black Point Investments, in the lead.
Assistant City Manager Zack Kyle said the Empire Hotel project is moving forward and incentives may be provided to the developer to get him over the finish line.
The council will hold a public hearing on the issue.
Both Kyle and Harper said they are working on a marketing campaign to answer questions that residents have about progress on the hotel project.
• The council will consider revising an approved tax incentive agreement for “Project Care” to include a description of an adjacent parcel the company has acquired. “Project Care,” which was approved by the council on Oct. 2, is described as a $45.2 million investment that would bring 35 jobs.
• The council will receive an annual report from Downtown Salisbury Inc. that will include its marketing, business and design developments for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
• The council will consider approving the 2019 Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice report as part of the requirements of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
• Several summer youth employees will give a presentation on what they’ve learned about city government departments.
• Council members will consider amendments to the Downtown Revitalization Incentive Grant Program.
• An amendment to the parking ordinance will be considered.
• Heggins will present proclamations recognizing Independent Retailer Month, Dari Caldwell Day and Chickweed Day.