Todd Paris’s Observations on Salisbury City Council Race: Part II

Posted on November 6, 2017

Todd Paris, Salisbury Attorney and Candidate for Salisbury City Council

♦ Councilman Kenny Hardin was elected as “the one Black” on Salisbury City Council in 2015. For many decades only one Black candidate ever gets elected.  Kenny Hardin is stuck down at the end of the dias at the far end from David Post while Mayor Karen Alexander, Maggie Blackwell and Brian Miller block vote whatever they wish through. Kenny has not “gone quietly” and has openly fought ideas and votes for what he believes is correct.  He’s spoken directly to the media and used his Facebook page to sound off about being marginalized, mislead, and kept out of the loop. I and the editor of Rowan Free Press have watched and reported favorably on Kenny’s looking out for the city’s many marginalized communities.

Past Salisbury City Council election statistics show a clear pattern over the years of high voter turnouts in the West Innes, North Ward, West Ward and the Milford Hillls precincts. They roughly represent the neighborhoods including the Historic District, Fulton Heights, Millford Hills and the Country Club area. I have friends and supporters in these areas.  However, these areas are dominated by middle and upper class white voters. These neighborhoods regularly vote for one Black candidate. Keep in mind Salisbury is almost 60% non-Caucasian.

This season a new candidate P.J. Ricks was pushed forward. I first heard about her on the city’s print media. Carl Repsher, a wealthy executive, was boosting Ricks and had a fund-raiser at the country club. Mr. Repsher’s announcement said there should be at least one black city council member elected, but I have checked with Kenny Hardin, Latasha Wilks, Ryan Evans, and Al Heggins and none of these qualified Black candidates have been offered such support.

Suddenly, it gets announced that the city would sponsor a ceremony at Salisbury’s infamous lynching tree to “heal” racial divisions. Before the lynching ceremony, a meeting at the Salisbury Civic Center was held first and free trolley ride to the tree. I went out of curiosity. What disturbed me was that the only council candidates who spoke at this gathering were Mayor Alexander and Ms. Ricks. Ms. Ricks handed out her candidate information at the end. I would later find out through city to candidate emails from the Salisbury City Manager that the City had “comped” the civic center and the normal $250.00 to $500.00 fee was waived. Was this an unofficial act by Mayor Karen Alexander to give Ms. Ricks the official seal of approval of the City of Salisbury for her candidacy?

Through the spring and summer, a number “one percenters” sent out instructions on who people should vote for. My favorite was from Mr. Edward Norvell, a scion of the Proctor Chemical family. His picks went out before the first article, interview, or forum on candidates were even started. It was taken down quickly. Perhaps it was “premature”. Ms. Ricks was the only Black candidate recommended. Others sent out the same picks. Their motivations are their own. They may be purely philanthropic and without fault. Why only one Black candidate out of five seats?

Ed Norvell’s Facebook message about who to vote for:

Ed Norvell’s Facebook comment on removing the “who to vote for” post:

Last week I had lunch with two young attorneys who I know well. As is the pattern, they work here and live somewhere else. At the other end of the table sat a wellknown local writer, a retired media personality, and a person who is wellconnected, but not quite enough wellconnected to get on the preferred list. The individual told everyone at the table he had been to a closed meeting at a city building where it was said that one Black had to be elected to prevent a lawsuit for ward voting like they had in Statesville. He said he would sue me if I repeated it and/or used his name, but since the comment was not a confidential communication and made in front of five witnesses, I decided to report this. While I am not quoting this word for word and I don’t know if he is being accurate, but suddenly a light went off in my head.

I know all the Black candidates for Salisbury City Council and there is not a single one who is prejudiced against white folks. They all seem to be good people who could perform well on council. I have never had an unpleasant word with Ms. Ricks and she seems like a very nice lady. I am concerned about how she suddenly sprang to prominence and whether she would be as strong a voice for the Black community or just a rubber stamp second vote for Mayor Alexander.

To those folks in the neighborhoods that heavily vote. If two or more Black candidates get elected, as that fairly represents the actual population of Salisbury, I promise you that lava will not gush from manhole covers. No disaster will be voted for that can come close to raising your property taxes 12 cents by borrowing $33 plus million dollars and thereby creating $3 million plus dollar annual deficit. That’s already been done. It’s called Fibrant and it was likely voted on by folks on one of the “old lists.”

It is my fervent opinion that Black voters participation will be what finally helps to turn this city around. Please vote your conscience.

I still say the mechanic who can tell you what’s not working with your car has an excllent chance of fixing it. If I am to elected to Salisbury City Council, I will start repairing city hall and the horrific shambles it created.

Actions in Faith and Justice Program on August 6th 2017:

Todd Paris Questions City Hall:

P.J. Ricks Thank You:

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