Kenny Hardin on Meeting with the City Manager, City Planning Services Director, and the Executive Director of the Centralina Council of Governments

Posted on January 24, 2017

Salisbury City Councilman Kenny Hardin

♦ I had a 90 minute meeting this morning with City Manager Lane Bailey, City Planning Services Director Janet Gapen, and the Executive Director of the Centralina Council of Governments. We discussed issues related to the continued revitalization of Downtown Salisbury and how it could stimulate economic development throughout the remainder of our City. I asked them to provide me hard correlation data and statistics.

One specific request I made was to dedicate resources to other gateway entry points into the City besides the I-85/East Innes Street entry point. I made specific reference to the area at West Innes and Statesville Blvd. as well Hwy 70 past the West End Plaza. Ms. Gapen shared that plans to address those areas were included in the Vision 20/20 plan soon to be released.

Mr. Bailey and I had a one-to-one conversation about the escalating crime and gun violence plaguing our City. I sent both he and our Mayor written correspondence this morning before our meeting. In both, I shared that the level of frustration amongst our citizens is growing and it’s not just in the Black community. I explained that I didn’t understand what our City crime control plan was and it appeared we were creating more of an unnecessary divisive and antagonistic relationship with our citizens.

I said the ongoing gun violence was embarrassing from a PR marketing standpoint and our lack of response was even more embarrassing and concerning for me. I told him I felt we were not offering adequate response to our Citizens or allowing them to be heard.

I asked for an explanation as to why we would not allow our citizens to be on the Council meeting agenda and said we needed to give our citizens their right to address us. Mr. Bailey was not defensive nor evasive and we discussed several options.

I asked that we convene a special hearing in Council Chambers and treat it the same as a formal Council meeting open to the public. I requested the only agenda item be a discussion of citizen concerns and solutions to addressing our gun violence and other crimes. I requested that our Chief, 2nd tier Salisbury Police Department leadership, the Sheriff, and a representative from the DA’s Office attend.

Later this morning, Mayor Karen Alexander and I had a nearly two hour very honest and candid telephone conversation. I appreciate our discussions as neither of us approached the conversation emotionally or defensively. We always discuss sensitive and difficult topics and issues with mutual respect. Even if we don’t agree with each other’s opinions, views, assessments or positions, we do acknowledge and respect them. Our conversations are very productive.

In our conversation today, we tackled subjects including the “no knock” warrant concerns, gun violence, misinformation and misperceptions, the shootings downtown over the weekend, increased community involvement and ownership of the issues, law enforcement efforts, crime related to race, trust in the Police, SPD-RCSO partnership, historical issues and impediments to the relationship, public comments at our meeting, racial division and sensitivity/insensitivity in our City, and strategies and effective workable solutions.

The Mayor was on board with the special Council Meeting and we both agreed it had to be solution-based and oriented on both the Police and citizens behalf. We are planning this meeting to occur within the next two weeks. I will keep you updated on the progress.

I appreciate the Mayor and City Manager’s willingness to engage in this sensitive discussion today and the willingness to move forward in listening to our Citizens.

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