SALISBURY — Incumbent Mayor Jim Ireton breezed into an easy re-election this week, beating challenger Joe Albero by a more than 2-to-1 margin in votes.
“Salisbury spoke loud and clear today that they want progress over pontification and backbone over blogging,” said Ireton during his victory speech Tuesday, taking a not overly subtle jab at Albero, who operates the SBYNews blog.
Though the numbers won’t be official until later this month, Ireton was the clear winner, registering 1,694 votes against Albero’s 782 with only 17.74 percent of registered voters turning out to cast a ballot.
Going into his next term, Ireton promised to focus on first and foremost on job growth and the revitalization of Salisbury’s downtown while also protecting the city’s neighborhoods and the Wicomico River.
“I’m excited for the next two years as we work together to continue making Salisbury safer, the Wicomico river cleaner, and revitalizing our downtown,” he said.
During his victory speech Ireton, who led many of his points with “where I come from,” told voters that economic growth can walk hand-in-hand with environmental preservation.
“Where I come from we take care of our river right outside of this door … that’s good for business, that’s good for the environment, and that’s good for the river outside,” he said.
As the national economy recovers, Ireton added that he expects to see “more growth at the north end” of town. On the subject of security, he pledged that the Salisbury Safe Streets Program will march on.
“We will continue to make this city safer for our university students every day,” he said. “We will continue to work with our Safe Streets partners at the north end of town to lower our rates at the north end at the retail section.”
An immediate challenge that Ireton acknowledged is the approaching budget especially since the City Council makeup has been altered with upstart Jake Day knocking off incumbent Debbie Campbell in a landslide victory similar to Ireton’s own win.
“I think the budget is going to be hard but it was going to be hard for any council,” said Ireton. “Like we said [Tuesday], we extend a hand to the people who are left on the council but we’re not going to wait around.”
Ireton referred to Council President Terry Cohen and Councilman Tim Spies, who along with Campbell have represented a council majority for the past two years that constantly found itself at odds with the council minority of Laura Mitchell and re-elected Shanie Shields. Day replacing Campbell will flip that dichotomy, according to Ireton.
“Even better than my race, Salisbury chose to send Jake Day to sit in a seat that has been mired down with stalling and ideological roadblocks just for the sake of having one,” said the mayor.
Clearly expecting Day to find more common ground with Mitchell and Shields than Cohen and Spies, Ireton reiterated that “we extend our hand to the present councilmembers and state to them that we are ready to vote, we are ready to decide, we are ready to move, and we are ready to lead right now.”
Though there has been no love lost between Ireton and Albero, with the later often criticizing the mayor’s policies via his blog, Albero did issue a statement this week congratulating Ireton on his victory and urging cooperation with the new council in the pursuit of “a more prosperous future.” Albero also touched on the election experience as a whole and deemed it a worthy endeavor despite his loss.
“This campaign has been hard-fought. It has also been a humbling experience. Humbling, not because of the size of Jim’s win, but because it has afforded me the opportunity to meet thousands of Salisbury voters,” wrote Albero. “In just a few short months I have been able to learn more about Salisbury and my neighbors than I otherwise might have in a lifetime’s worth of normal interactions.”
Though their viewpoints often clash and their personalities even more so, Albero added that he hopes Ireton will make gains with economic development and job creation, two topics that Albero said he and the mayor both took up during the election.
“While Jim and I may disagree on many of the specifics of these issues, it is my sincere wish that he and the new council will be successful in moving Salisbury towards a more prosperous future,” Albero wrote. “While Jim, Shanie, and Jake will have the great honor of serving us in the city government, it is my hope that I may be able to continue to help Salisbury move forward in some other capacity.”
With the big wins for Day, Shields, and Ireton, the mayor thanked voters for what he perceived as an acknowledgement that Salisbury is being put on the right path.
“Because the citizens decided tonight that we are right and they are confident in our effort,” he said.