Filing ends: Alexander, Heggins will compete in city’s first mayoral race

Published 2:57 pm Friday, July 16, 2021

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — With a large number of candidates running for Salisbury City Council, Mayor Karen Alexander and Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins will compete in November during the first mayoral race in Salisbury.

Friday was the last day for candidates across all the county’s municipalities to declare a run for public office. After filing closed at noon, there were 66 candidates vying for 42 seats in the county. All municipalities will have races on the ballot.

Heggins made history in 2017 when she was the first Black woman to serve as Salisbury’s mayor. She also ran against Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican, in 2020 for a seat in the state House, but she lost after receiving 39% of the vote in Rowan County.

Alexander first served as mayor from 2015-17 before Heggins received more votes in 2017 and was named mayor by fellow council members. After receiving the most votes in 2019, Alexander was again mayor. A successful ballot measure in the 2019 election now means the city now holds a mayoral election separate from the council race.

Salisbury’s candidate pool for City Council, where there are four seats on the ballot and two incumbents running, is a diverse one, including Rev. Anthony Smith and Harry McLaughlin, incumbent David Post, incumbent Tamara Sheffield, Nalini Joseph, Jonathan Barbee and Jessica Cloward. Both the mayor and council members serve two-year terms. That only two incumbents are running means November’s election will produce at least two new council members.

In East Spencer, Mayor Barbara Mallett will make another run and be joined by aldermen Albert Smith, Dwayne Holmes and Tony Hillian. The aldermen will be challenged by Shawn Rush, who’s the second vice chair of the Rowan County Democratic Party. Three seats on the board are up for grabs.

The race has stacked up in Rockwell as well, with longtime Mayor Beau Taylor challenged by Chuck Bowman. Aldermen Justin Crews, Lizz Johnson, Chris Cranford and Stephenie Walker have all filed for re-election for one of the five seats set to expire. They are joined by a challenger, Dillon Brewer. Brewer spent two terms on the Rowan County United Way allocations committee and has worked with other local nonprofit organizations.

In China Grove, only three seats are up for grabs, but nine candidates have thrown their hats into the race. All three incumbents 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. Incumbents will be challenged by Lou “Gary” Watkins, Josh Mullis, Cheryl Sheets, Krista Moon, Stacy Woodward and William “Joey” Jordan.

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

The town of Granite Quarry will have one seat for mayor and two open seats on the board. Mayor William “Bill” Feather will not seek re-election. Instead, the mayoral race will be between Brittany Barnhardt and Mike Brinkley. Incumbents John Linker and William “Kim” Cress will seek re-election, joined by challengers Brandon Gibbs and Angela Nee.

In Cleveland, which will have three seats on the ballot, 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. Cleveland Mayor Patrick Phifer will also make another run.

Spencer Mayor Jonathan Williams will run for re-election. He is joined by town board incumbents Patti Seacrest, who is mayor pro tem, 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, along with challenger Andrew Howe.

The race is also packed in Kannapolis, which has 12 council candidates and three seats on the ballot. Mayor Darrell Hinnant will seek another term and has no competition. He is joined by incumbents Dianne Berry, Doug Wilson and Van Rowell. However, incumbents will be challenged by Jayne Williams, Milton Smith, Jeanne Dixon, Chris Gordon, Phil Goodman, James Litaker, Jordan Connell and Patrick “Bubba” Hartsell.

The town of Faith is among the municipalities that appoint a mayor and mayor pro tem following their election to the board. Five seats with two-year terms are currently up for grabs. However, only four candidates filed for candidacy, and the Rowan County Board of Elections will have a called meeting to discuss extending Faith’s candidacy filing deadline. At this time, Mayor C.J. Moody has filed for re-election along with with incumbents Randall Barger, Mayor Pro Tem Matt Lyerly, Brian Campbell and Gary Gardner. All won re-election without any competition in 2019.

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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