Kenny Hardin, Salisbury City Councilman
♦ I was interviewed for an hour this past Friday morning by a reporter from the local newspaper. The focus was on what my thoughts were after being an elected official with the City Council for one full year. I was asked whether I felt any progress has been made and about my relationship with my colleagues.
I responded in my typical candid and honest manner. I was certain my remarks would rub some people the wrong way, but as I told the reporter; I’m always going to speak the truth and if it offends people, I really don’t care. I posted this summary to my social media page because I wanted to ensure I controlled the message and to give deeper insight into what I actually said. I’m neither frustrated or disgruntled. I just don’t see progress.
Some of my responses included:
The lack of progress over the last 20 years and little to no movement over the last year. We were having community dialogue sessions to focus on reducing crime, drugs, gun violence and abandoned boarded up houses in 1996 and doing the same failed strategy today.
How people want change with our young people, but don’t support new initiatives. I shared how people tried to talk me out of, heavily resisted, worked against me and used subversive tactics to undermine my first attempt at a Boys & Girls club. Even a VP Rep from the United Way told me they would not financially support it.
I don’t feel the Council understands poverty or the plight of those in challenged communities therefore improving their well being is not a priority. I explained that because they don’t see it out of their front door and have to deal with it regularly, it is not a concern for the City
There is an absence of reality that exists and we would rather focus on wasted feel good efforts like trying to be an All American City, planting flowers, and having police officers dancing with children instead of identifying and resolving issues plaguing our City.
There is too much discussion and analysis on the problems and not enough strategy and implementation of solutions.
There is a lack of an identified economic development and crime/gun violence control plan. I’ve asked for one for three months, but have yet to receive one.
The City does not include the people impacted in the solution process.
We need to stop focusing on chasing a gun, a gang member or criticizing a low income single mother and focus on offering alternatives and options.
I’m meeting with the President of RCCC next month to talk real strategies for community improvement
There has been an attempt to marginalize my voice and disrespect me publicly, which has resulted in me responding in kind in return. I will not be silenced and demand to be afforded the same courtesy as other Council members.
I was asked why can’t I be more of a statesman like Pete Kennedy? Why I care so much about the Black community when they didn’t even vote and White people put me in office? Why do I care so much about the West End when I don’t even live there and live in a good neighborhood? Why don’t I try harder to get along with White people?
My voice and expertise is not listened to until there is a crisis. Yet, I have mediated and quietly resolved several tense racial issues between the City and School System.
The relationship between the City/Police remains fractured and poor.
I will not compromise my integrity for a vote. I will always speak out for what’s right or expose what’s wrong regardless of color, socioeconomic status or zip code.
I have made more people aware of the civic and political process and made it more inclusive for those not normally included. I’ve worked to increase diversity in Boards
Too much business as usual and I’m ok with being criticized for challenging the norm and not going along to get along. I said I don’t care about always being out voted 4-1, I will continue speaking up.
The poor use of Federal Gang grant funds
When asked if I had any regrets for refusing to honor the outgoing Chief or demanding an apology from the Mayor Pro-Tem in a recent meeting, I said absolutely not.
I will not wait for the moral compass of my colleagues to align or for them to recognize the severity of how dire things are. I will continue to work on programs with those in the community like our Literacy Program .
There is no real push for transparency but instead to control the message. I’ve been criticized for speaking to the media
How the initial perception many White people had of me going in has been changed to one of strong support and complimentary words based on my integrity and willingness to fight for the truth.
I shared some of the insensitive comments that was made to me during the campaign up to now
My ego is not tied to this position and I care nothing for personal recognition, praise or adulation. I’m in it for the people regardless of color. I’m for what’s right and who’s right.
Not certain if I will run again or retire from public life for good.