Nine candidates file for municipal office on first day

Published 8:52 am Saturday, July 3, 2021

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — On the first day of filing for this year’s municipal elections, nine candidates stopped by the Rowan County Board of Elections Friday to confirm their runs for office ahead of the holiday weekend.

Seats are open for the November election in each of the county’s municipalities. On Friday, candidates filed for seats in Salisbury, East Spencer, Spencer and Kannapolis.

Filing runs until noon on July 16, with July 13 being the final date to withdraw candidacy.

Mayor Karen Alexander was the first candidate to sign her notice at the Board Of Elections on Friday when filing began at noon. She’ll be a candidate in the city’s first mayoral election. Previously, council members chose the mayor based on the top vote-getter. Following a successful ballot measure in 2019, this year’s election will be the first time Salisbury’s council and mayoral race are separate.

Alexander served as mayor from 2015-17 and was again named mayor in 2019.

With the federal American Rescue Plan funds coming and ongoing infrastructure plan discussions, Alexander said she aspires to be part of the body “making good transformational decisions.” As the recently elected president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities, Alexander added her connections are able to help provide the city with even more opportunities.

While no city council incumbents have yet filed for re-election, former Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education candidate Jonathan Barbee is vying for one of the four seats. Barbee is the former vice chair of the Rowan County Young Republicans, and was unsuccessful in challenging Alisha Byrd-Clark in the 2020 board of education race.

In Salisbury, the mayor and city council members serve two-year terms, and all seats are open for the November election.

Shawn Rush, second vice chair of the Rowan County Democratic Party, will make another attempt at East Spencer’s board of alderman race. He told the Post Friday he wants to “reimagine” the town and bring in fresh ideas. Among his priorities, he said, would be working toward a greenway project for the town, helping resolve ongoing water and sewer fund issues and paving the town’s roads. Additionally, he has ideas for more housing initiatives, including more suburban and affordable housing options.

In Spencer, six seats are up for grabs in addition to the mayoral race. All of those positions hold two-year terms. Alderwoman Patricia Sledge, who was first elected to the board in 2019, filed for re-election to the board Friday. Sledge is a member of the Rowan County Democratic Party Executive Committee, which attends state-level meetings at least twice a year.

The race in Kannapolis has drawn the biggest crowd so far, with Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant filing for re-election as mayor. He remains unchallenged at this time. A total of three seats on the council are up for grabs and are currently held by council members Van Rowell, Dianne Berry and Doug Wilson.

Rowell and Berry are the only incumbents who filed for re-election Friday. They were joined by challengers Milton Smith and Jayne Williams. The mayor and council seats in Kannapolis all hold four-year terms.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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