Salisbury Mayoral Candidate Kenny Hardin is Proud to be a Disruption

Posted on October 23, 2017

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury Mayoral Candidate

♦ It’s hard being me. So many people want to define you without even knowing you. People saddle you with expectations and will place a label on you when you refuse to meet their unreasonable demands. They will readily accept a mischaracterization simply because they read it or someone told them they should believe it. I can’t count the number of times people, whom I never met personally and mostly White, have said to me after a conversation, “Wow, you’re nothing like what I’ve read about you in that Salisbury paper. You’re not angry at all.” I’ve heard that four different times just this month.

I give all the credit to the local paper and the shill they are for a small segment of misguided folk who fear progressive racial change in this City. A small minority of so called cultural elite still harken for the days where an uppity Negro got his come uppance for getting out of line. The local paper tried to give me mine in a recent editorial, but it had the opposite effect. I was inundated with calls from angry, but strong supporters who flooded the paper’s comments section. There was even discussion of an economic boycott and a mass dumping of subscriptions.

Since I’ve been on Council, that paper has unsuccessfully tried to paint me as the “big ole scary Black boogeyman” that White people should fear. I’m glad there is a large segment of people who exist in this City who have refused to buy into it and recognize who I am and what I’m trying to accomplish. What I don’t appreciate and will not tolerate are those hypocrites who act as if they are so well versed and believe in diversity, fairness, and equity for all. But in reality, they engage in acts and practices that show they’re just as racist as those who openly espouse hate. Just because you don’t openly call me a Nigger doesn’t mean you don’t treat me like one with your actions. When you use your power and authority to suppress voters through personal attacks and character assassination, you are no better than those who engaged in denying Black people the right to vote with intimidation during the periods of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights era and the current emergence of Jim Crow, Jr.

It’s disturbing that a news organization would use its entire medium to call out the only Black Council member, scrutinize his behavior, and question his chance for re-election, but give no consideration to what he has experienced, endured or accomplished during his tenure. The way the local Salisbury paper operates is more aligned with 1857 instead of 2017. It is sadly reminiscent of the Dred Scott Supreme Court case where essentially they ruled 7-1 that Blacks had no rights Whites had to respect. When you demonize the only Council member of color in print with no balanced approach, you show your disregard and lack of respect for an entire demographic of people.

I will wear every label these modern day purveyors of hate and purposeful division assign to me. Yes, I am a disruptor. When I took office, I said in my acceptance speech I would not be a politician and would change the way the Council has operated. I said I would not go along to get along. I will accept criticism for pushing for true openness and transparency, and not use the term as a cliché to appease people. I welcome being maligned for asking questions, seeking a higher level of accountability from City leaders and exposing mismanagement and corruptive practices. If fighting for the rights and freedoms of all citizens, ensuring that citizens know how their taxpayer money is being spent, fighting for the integrity and livability of neighborhoods, speaking out for those who don’t have a voice, calling out poor and ineffective leadership, demanding accountability from City leadership and seeking increased operational efficiency from staff makes me a disruptive force, then I’ll go get the t-shirt and coffee mug made now.

What I won’t adhere to is the expectation that as the sole Black face on the Council, I’m supposed to sit up there, be quiet, don’t ask questions, and know my place. What I won’t accept is to be continually cut off when I’m speaking, endure the heavy sighs of frustration when I’m asking for clarity, and the eye rolling and irritated body language from some of those on Council during my presentations. What I refuse to go along with is being talked down to by the Mayor and others during Council meetings and having my expertise and contributions minimized and regarded as unimportant. When you write a one sided misguided article in an attempt to sway voters, at least have the journalistic integrity and ethical base to write the entire factual story.

I know I’ve been successful during my time on Council when in the last week, two people in their 30’s and 40’s said to me that this will be the first time they’ve ever voted. They gave me all the credit and said that since I’ve been in Office they have been inspired by me and have for the first time been interested and engaged in the political process. They both thanked me for showing them how the system works, keeping them informed and motivating them to vote. I’m glad I was able to disrupt their lives enough to make them aware and involved. I’ve received so many similar messages where people both Black and White have thanked me for the way I’ve questioned the process and fought for citizens. But, things like that didn’t make the article because it doesn’t fit the racist narrative the paper was trying to push to dissuade voters from supporting me on Election Day.

Longevity on Council is no indication of success. There are other Council members up for re-election that have served multiple terms. With the poor condition this City finds itself, what expectations have they met? I guess that wasn’t relevant for the paper to acknowledge? I’ve spearheaded a program to teach free trade certifications to help impact crime rates and unemployment. I co-supported a program to give low cost housing to teachers and police officers in economically challenged neighborhoods. I co-founded a successful literacy program for 3rd-5th graders. I received the Martin Luther King, Jr Humanitarian Award presented by the VA Medical Center this year. I could add so many more successes and accomplishments, but the point is none of this showed up in the boogeynan article because it would not help the slanderous attempt made to misrepresent who I truly am. I probably could’ve accomplished much more, but I was routinely and purposely kept out of the communication loop with emails and information by the City Manager and Mayor. Many times, I was contacted by news media outlets and told of things that were occurring within the City. Although I shared my discontent with the Mayor and City Manager on many occasions about this level of disrespect, it has continued to happen even up to this month. But, I guess being upset about it and expecting better makes me a disruptive force?

As Mayor, I will bring a better level of continuity, respect and collegiality to the Council. I will ensure we don’t have the poor and dysfunctional relationship that exists now. I’m adept at building and maintaining strong, positive working relationships that are not contingent upon pettiness, exclusion or overly defensive responses that create unnecessary internal and external dissension. From my time as a Non Commissioned Officer in the Military to my roles in Corporate Healthcare bringing all levels of employees and disciplines together for the good of the patient, I understand what is needed to be a strong leader. This City is suffering and people are angry, frustrated and upset with the direction we’re headed and the conditions we’re in. How much longer do we have to accept the status quo and the people who have allowed us to get in this condition?

I will be that needed disruptive force, that strong and decisive voice to move us forward. If I need to be that scary boogeyman that some want me to be in order to move us forward, then I will proudly wear that label.


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