10 to Watch 2020: Karen Alexander

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 5, 2020

SALISBURY — Karen Alexander — founder, president and lead architect for KKA Architecture — is no stranger to the Post’s “10 to Watch” list.

She also was tabbed for the list in 2016, soon after she had led the the ticket in the 2015 election for Salisbury City Council and was chosen by her fellow council members as mayor for the 2016-17 term.

Alexander finds herself among the 10 to Watch again, following her ticket-leading finish in the 2019 municipal election and her selection again as Salisbury mayor. She replaces Al Heggins in the mayoral position after outpolling Heggins (the second-leading vote-getter for council) by a 185-vote margin in November. Heggins was named mayor pro tem.

Alexander finds herself making history of sorts. She will be the last mayor not elected specifically for that position. Also in November, voters approved a ballot question which sets up a separate mayor election in 2021.

Will Alexander, who has been on Salisbury City Council since 2013, be a candidate then? Time will tell. Now she’s focused on a gamut of things for the New Year.


Who would or should play you in a movie? “Meryl Streep. She always plays her characters with authenticity.”

What would you want to be your last meal? “Spinach quiche with a side of roasted asparagus.”

What is your personal hope or challenge for the new year? “Because education is the No. 1 driver for economic development and it is important to the children of every family from every socio-economic, racial ethnicity or faith tradition, I have spoken to all of our council members, who are in unanimous agreement that we can find ways to leverage some city support for O-Pre-K, in alignment with the RSSS System and community partners.

“My vision is to create a coalition of community partners — for example, Apseed, Smart Start, Partners in Learning, Head Start, other childcare providers both privately and publicly funded, church daycares, DSS, private and publicly funded counselors — to create the services that our children need to succeed in K-12. I think it is a concept that the business community would also support since it has a direct connection to the economic prosperity for the whole community.

“My aspirations — through the support of all council members and city staff — are to move forward with progress on the Empire (Hotel), Bell Tower Park, planning for the future, goal-setting, budgeting, community engagement through quarterly town halls,  seeking non-tax payer resources for our city budget through state and federal grant opportunities by being prepared with shovel ready projects, and the list goes on. Little can be accomplished without the talent and passion of everyone, including our citizens.”

Who will you personally be watching in 2010? I will be watching and learning, listening and engaging the other nine that have been chosen to watch. What if we could align all our passions to move our wonderful communities forward together!”

What is your reaction to being named among 2020’s “10 to Watch”? “I am humbled, honored and mystified to be one of the 10 to Watch.”