Political Notebook: 37 local candidates now running in county’s November municipal elections

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 2021

SALISBURY — A total of 37 candidates across Rowan County are now officially campaigning for one of 42 seats up for grabs in the November municipal elections.

Seats are set to expire in December in each of the county’s municipalities. Those vying for one have until July 16 to file a notice of candidacy for the Nov. 2 election. To date, no one has filed for the mayoral race or one of the two open seats in Granite Quarry. Mayor William “Bill” Feather, Mayor Pro Tem John Linker and board member William Cress currently hold those seats.

In Salisbury, Mayor Karen Alexander remains unopposed in the mayoral race. All four council seats are up for re-election, but none of the current council members have filed. Incumbent Brian Miller says he won’t seek another term.

On Monday, Nalini Joseph filed for election to one of the city’s open seats. Joseph is district administrator of Guardian ad Litem Program, which investigates and determines the needs of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services. She is also the owner of Lini’s Mahal, an Indian restaurant located on Rugby Road. She is a current member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board and vice president for Rowan County Republican Women.

She told the Post she began thinking about a run for public office years ago and wants to use her 30 years of experience in the court system and working with nonprofits to “make Salisbury even greater.” Joseph is an Asian-American who grew up in India before moving to the U.S.

Rev. Anthony Smith of Mission House Church also filed for election to the Salisbury City Council Monday. Besides working with the Social Security Administration, Smith is an author and a leading member of the Rowan Concerned Citizens organization. After leading grassroots community organizations for years, Smith said he feels called to scale those efforts to an institutional level.

“Protests and community campaigns are very, very valuable,” he said, “but you can only take the movement so far. At the heart of this is to be at the place where policies are being made and city processes are being looked at. My question is this: what if Salisbury became one of the most equitable and innovative cities in our region?”

Smith said he received legal counsel before filing to ensure a campaign wouldn’t violate his position as a federal employee. His candidacy is OK because municipal elections are nonpartisan. But he also will soon be retiring from that position, he said.

Jonathan Barbee, who ran for school board last year, is another challenger who has filed for city council.

Barbee told the Post Monday he was encouraged by fellow members of the Salisbury community to file for a seat on the city council. Barbee said he plans to run on the slogan, “People Over Money,” and he would like to see more growth toward the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport.

In East Spencer, incumbents Mayor Barbara Mallett and alderman Albert Smith have filed along with challenger Shawn Rush, who’s the second vice chair of the Rowan County Democratic Party. Three seats on the board are up for grabs.

In Rockwell, alderman Justin Crews remains the only incumbent who has filed for one of the five seats set to expire. He is joined by a challenger, Dillon Brewer. Brewer, 27, spent two terms on the Rowan County United Way allocations committee and has worked with other local nonprofit organizations. As a young person who’s moved away from Rockwell before returning to purchase a home there, Brewer told the Post he wants to see other young people from Rockwell come back or stay to raise families and begin careers. He credits the town with being “a great community that can only get better.”

All three incumbents holding seats on the China Grove Town Council have filed for re-election, including Arthur Heggins, Don Bringle and Brandon Linn. Bringle was appointed to the council in 2019 to finish the remainder of Charles Seaford’s term once Seaford was elected mayor. Bringle previously served as mayor for 12 years.

Only three seats are available in China Grove, and two challengers have now declared a run. Lou “Gary” Watkins and William “Joey” Jordan both filed candidacy Monday.

Only two seats are set to expire in Landis, and incumbents Tony Corriher and Darrell Overcash have filed for re-election.

In Cleveland, which will have three open seats, incumbents Bryan Little, Gerald Osborne and Richard Taylor have filed for re-election and are joined by challenger Danny Gabriel, who was previously the town’s mayor.

Spencer Mayor Jonathan Williams will run for re-election. He’s is joined by incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Patti Seacrest and board members Steve Miller, Patricia Sledge and Sam Morgan. Rashid Muhammad, who filled an unexpired term in 2019 following the resignation of Howard White, has also joined the race for one of the six open seats.

In Faith, incumbents Brian Campbell and Randall Barger have filed for re-election to two of the five open seats.

In Kannapolis, eight candidates have now filed, with only one mayoral position and three open council seats. Mayor Darrell Hinnant will seek another term and is joined by incumbents Dianne Berry, Doug Wilson and Van Rowell. However, incumbents will be challenged by by Jayne Williams, Milton Smith, Jeanne Dixon and Chris Gordon. 

Legislation consolidating Fort Bragg judicial district signed by President Biden

WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson and supported by Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr consolidating Fort Bragg’s judicial district was signed into federal law last week.

Hudson, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, filed the bill with Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat from the 2nd District. Both Tillis and Burr are Republicans. The legislation was also co-sponsored by Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican representing Rowan County in the 13th Congressional District.

Hudson, who represented Rowan County in the U.S. House until the 2020 election, said the legislation makes hearing and participating in court cases easier for families at Fort Bragg under the new consolidation into the Eastern District of North Carolina.

“This commonsense legislation will help families at Fort Bragg by allowing all court cases stemming from the base to be heard in the Eastern District’s courthouse in nearby Fayetteville,” Hudson said. “As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, I appreciate the leadership and support of Congresswoman Deborah Ross, Senators Burr and Tillis, and my colleagues on this bipartisan bill.”

Previously, where on Fort Bragg an infraction occurred determined where individuals had to travel for legal proceedings — ranging from 20 minutes away to two hours away.

“This creates numerous logistical issues for North Carolina’s district courts and travel hardships,” Burr said. “By consolidating Fort Bragg’s judicial district into one, we will alleviate some of the confusion for service members and their families located at Fort Bragg.”

Rep. Budd files amendment to expedite installation of Rev. Billy Graham bust in U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON — After casting a vote against a bill that removes certain statues and busts from the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Ted Budd filed an amendment to expedite the installation of a bust honoring evangelist Rev. Billy Graham.

Traditionally, each state is authorized to designate “two statues of notable citizens for display in the United States Capitol.”

In October 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a request to the Joint Committee on the Library to approve the replacement of the statue of Charles Brantley Aycock with the Rev. William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., a nationally known evangelist from Charlotte. Graham was born in November 1918, and died at the age of 99 in February 2018.

Graham was also a spiritual adviser to every U.S. president, beginning with former President Harry Truman’s tenure until President Barack Obama’s.

North Carolina’s request continues to await the JCL approval to proceed to step five of the 10-step replacement process.

The amendment filed by Budd, a Republican representing North Carolina’s 13th Congressional district, calls on the JCL to rule on the proposed dimensions within 15 days, approve or deny the full-sized clay model and pedestal design within 15 days and approve or deny the completed statue within 30 days.

“The legacy of Rev. Billy Graham is based on his simple message of forgiveness based on John 3:16,” Budd said. “His lifelong commitment to preaching the Gospel, his fight for civil rights, his opposition to communism and the spiritual guidance provided hope to hundreds of millions. He was the first private citizen from North Carolina to lie in honor in the United States Capitol and his likeness should stand right outside the House chamber forever. After years of bureaucratic delay, it’s time to get this done.”

The bill, which Budd voted against, calls for the removal of certain statues and busts, such as those honoring Confederates, from display in the Capitol. The bill directs the Joint Committee on the Library to remove the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court chamber of the Capitol and replace it with a bust of Thurgood Marshall. The bill also calls on the removal of Charles Brantley Aycock, John Caldwell Calhoun and James Paul Clarke from areas of the Capitol accessible to the public.