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Letter: Heggins treated unfairly by Post, council members

I was probably as surprised as anyone that Al Heggins pole vaulted over sitting City Council members to receive the most votes in the last municipal election to become Salisbury’s mayor without even having served on Council before.

Here she was, an outsider in some respects who didn’t travel in the same visible social circles as the other candidates. I was curious to see how she would navigate this new terrain.

I became immediately impressed with her leadership skills; her warm, approachable, collaborative style; her unconditional dedication to the job; her determination to give voice to those who hadn’t had one before; her principled convictions while maintaining an openness to opposing ideas; her tireless efforts to promote our city at every opportunity. And I’ve been disappointed in the pushback I’ve seen her receive from the start.

I have witnessed disrespect, even subtle hostility, from her council colleagues. I have read unfair and damaging stories in the Salisbury Post. Examples include a splashy cover story that gave the impression she exceeded the city’s travel budget when she didn’t; a false charge that she refused phone interviews preferring email responses instead; a suggestion the recent White House visit on opportunity zones may have been a pre-election publicity stunt when the visit’s timing was totally a White House decision. Citizens have criticized her for focusing too much on “Fame” when she has taken no stance herself and held an open forum to air all opinions only in response to the public’s drumbeat on the issue.

I’m proud that voters took the historic step to make this distinguished woman of color, a military veteran and a fluent Spanish speaker the face of our city and hope she can remain so. There is no one, in my view, who can fill those shoes as well.

— Mary Miller James

Salisbury

Editor’s note: The Post published a clarification on Sept. 15 stating the story about travel expenses (“From Hawaii to England, Heggins’ travel expenses top those from recent mayors”) should have said that Heggins declined to answer some questions during a phone interview with a reporter and asked to respond via email instead. We apologize for the error.

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