Salisbury mayoral candidate Alexander and Heggins discuss leadership style at Chamber of Commerce forum – Salisbury Post


By Natalie Anderson
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SALISBURY – Mayor Karen Alexander and Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, both competing in the city’s first mayoral race, spoke about their leadership styles to tackle Salisbury’s issues at a forum candidates Thursday.

Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, Salisbury Post and Catawba College hosted a Nominees Forum at the Norvell Theater for the mayoral race and the Salisbury Council race. Spectators were not allowed and the event was broadcast online and on WSRG-TV, the city’s public access television network. Josh Smicker, president of the communications program at Catawba College, moderated the event and questions were submitted to the Post. Each candidate had only one minute to respond.

Alexander said his recent tenure as mayor had demonstrated his ability to “provide calm and courageous leadership in times of challenge”. She cited positive trends and success in economic development despite the challenges of 2020, including the KIVA microcredit program for women and minority entrepreneurs and the 1MBB initiative, which aims to increase the number of business owners. black people across the country. Alexander added that she was committed to increasing funding for the Salisbury Police Department and local schools, in addition to building more affordable housing through grants.

Heggins said that in addition to the accomplishments, voters should look for something deeper in a mayor, who should bring ideas and proposed frameworks for equity, inclusion and diversity across the city. Throughout the forum, she reiterated the call to “align the precious traditions of Salisbury with a forward-thinking vision”.

Alexander said that as an architect, listening carefully and assessing the needs of people with different skills is the only way she can see her designs “become a reality”. Alexander said she used these same skills in her leadership. Alexander said she is not afraid of the work required of a mayor and takes credit for working well with organizations and people across the city and region to advocate for resources.

Heggins said she is a “processor” with active listening skills who can stay focused on the issue at hand despite comments that seek to dismiss or provoke it. She also cited her experience as an officer in the US military. Heggins said she was a person who was treated “like a person” by systems meant to serve her and other citizens. Because of this, Heggins said she wanted to be a mayor who would serve everyone.

“Remember Al Heggins is not just for the people, Al Heggins is with the people,” Heggins said.

When asked about the city’s top priority, Alexander and Heggins agreed on reducing crime. Alexander said efforts must include examining the root causes of violence and sees the need for more programs that can “help young people find their way” and get out of trouble.

Heggins said residents “hear too many gunshots” and suffer too much trauma from a recent spike in violent crime. She called for full funding of the Salisbury Police Department and the introduction of posts outside of patrols to help officers use innovative practices in problem solving and de-escalation techniques. One of its goals is to create a Neighborhood Congress with representatives who can build relationships across the city and work together to tackle the problem of crime reduction.

Heggins also cited the implementation of a Violence Healing Model, which aims to address the root causes of violence in order to prevent crime.

Alexander discussed ongoing projects that show potential for further development, including the recent unanimous selection of a developer for the Empire Hotel project. The design plans include a boutique-style concept with apartments, at least one restaurant, and a spa. Alexander said communication with Brett Kreuger, the selected developer, has led other investors to consider Salisbury for future developments.

Heggins calls for creating space for entrepreneurs without physical spaces to have opportunities downtown with pop-up shops, which will diversify the choice of downtown shoppers and increase foot traffic. She also called for continued efforts to keep the city center accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

How to involve more people in municipal administration was another question. Heggins said any relationship heard and understood is essential for this to work. The local government needs to make sure residents are heard, Heggins said.

Alexander encouraged residents to get involved in one of the city’s 13 councils and commissions.

Early voting for municipalities began Thursday at the Rowan County Electoral Council office, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. Where is. It runs until October 30, with election day on November 2.

An article on the responses of the seven candidates for Salisbury City Council at the forum will be published online today and in the print edition on Sunday.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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