Council candidate Nalini Joseph looks to use decades of experience in courts if elected

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 17, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City council candidate Nalini Joseph calls herself a visionary with the ability to see into the future of what Salisbury could be.

With decades spent compromising in the court system, Joseph wants to bring those skills and her ability to reach agreements regardless of political and ideological viewpoints to the city level as a council member.

If elected to council in November, Joseph, 53, will be the first Indian-American to serve. She was born and grew up in India after her father moved there to begin a ministry. After high school, Joseph moved to the U.S. to attend Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She found her way to Salisbury in 2011.

In the last 14 years, Joseph has served as district administrator of the Guardian ad Litem Program, which advocates for abused and neglected children through the state’s district courts, for Iredell and Alexander counties. Joseph also owns and operates Lini’s Mahal, a concierge chef business, and Lini’s Burgers. She also founded William Jones Scholars LLC, a nonprofit educational organization for children.

Joseph told the Post she became interested about a year ago in improving the community with her skills and experience, which includes building nonprofit organizations, managing budgets and personnel and collaborating with judges and other stakeholders. She identified public safety as a major concern for the city at this time, which calls for supporting law enforcement, crime reduction and proper budget management.

“I have a lot of deep-rooted connections in the judicial system, and I have a very good understanding of what happens that creates our rates of incarceration,” Joseph said. “And I understand what happens because of abuse and neglect. I understand substance abuse, I understand poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, domestic violence.”

Working in the courts system, she said, has made her accustomed to disagreements and the kind of negotiation and compromise needed to reach agreements. Joseph said serving on the council also requires looking at every viewpoint and being able to come up with a plan that works for everyone’s best interests.

“It’s always give and take,” Joseph said. “We can have disagreements, but we can still work toward the common good.”

Joseph said economic growth is among the most important issues for city leaders to address. That requires conducting a “deep dive” into the educational system to retain the talent from those who graduate here, she said. Though the county has primary guidance over the schools in Rowan County, Joseph said retention efforts require partnerships and collaboration with the local schools and higher education institutions.

Part of her vision for Salisbury in the long-term is the ability to become “the next Silicon Valley,” which she recalled was once a little-known area in northern California prior to the founding of Hewlett-Packard Company in the 1930s.

“That’s exactly what can happen here in our city,” Joseph said. “We can make it technologically driven. We can bring in great people. We can provide wonderful education to the children that are in our school systems.”

Maintaining a healthy, clean environment is another issue important to Joseph. She is a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, which she said helped her learn so much about what it takes beyond time and money to ensure the city’s parks and recreational facilities are accessible to all residents.

“It’s extremely important that we look at equality of opportunity for all of our citizens, not for just one contingent of our society or our community,” Joseph said.

Joseph praised City Manager Lane Bailey, who is retiring in December, with being a “financial whiz” and “forensic accountant” who analyzes every line item cost in the budget. She told the Post she wants to see that same level of ample experience and skills in the next manager, in addition to a vision for the city.

“I have the children and families that I have worked with at heart, but I am able to see beyond today, tomorrow,” Joseph said. “I’m able to see beyond just my two-year term on council if I am elected. I’m able to see into the future, and I see a beautiful, prosperous Salisbury. A place that’s safe for everyone to live in.”

Joseph and her husband, Jude, have one son. Joseph is also a volunteer at the Salisbury VA Medical Center, and a voting at-large member of the Republican Executive Committee with the Rowan County Republican Party.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.