SALISBURY – Municipal polls closed at 7 on Tuesday evening and by 8:45 the unofficial results were announced resulting in a significant change for Salisbury’s government.
In District 1, candidates April Jackson and Cynthia Polk went up against incumbent Shanie Shields, who came out on top receiving 145 votes out of a total of 303 total votes for the district. Jackson received 77 votes and Polk scored 80 votes.
In District 2, newcomer Jake Day squared off against incumbent Debbie Campbell. Out of a total of 2,183 votes in the district, Day will be taking a seat at the dais after receiving 1,569 votes versus Campbell, who received 612 votes.
Out of 14,174 registered voters in Salisbury, just 2,515, voters turned out, or a paltry 17 percent, to make a difference in leadership.
The official election results will be released later following Absentee Canvassing at the Board of Elections, next Wednesday’s Provisional Canvassing and the final step of Absentee Canvassing on Friday. As of Tuesday, there were about 220 absentees that needed to be counted.
“I feel good. I feel great. I feel just wonderful,” Shields said on Wednesday. “I feel the support because the citizens wanted a change.”
Shields is grateful for all the support she received not only from the citizens, but her family, church members and the donations given to support her campaign.
She plans to reach out to her opponents Jackson and Polk to sit down and discuss their concerns and goals for Salisbury.
“To discuss … how we can help one another in the neighborhood because some of their ideas were good ideas,” she said.
Returning to the council, Shields has a list of top priorities. First thing she would like to see is Acting Fire Chief Richard Hoppes hired as the permanent fire chief. Next, she would like the authority over the city attorney be returned to the administration, reversing the action made by the former council majority to place the city attorney under council control.
Shields wants to have Salisbury move forward in a positive direction towards economic development, especially in the downtown area as well as focus on educating Salisbury’s children and adults in job skills.
“It isn’t just about marketing our buildings, schools and housing. We also have to market our people that we have skilled labor here,” she said.
For the past year, Shields has been often voting on the minority side of the City Council along with Councilwoman Laura Mitchell, while Council President Terry Cohen, now former Council Vice President Debbie Campbell and Councilman Tim Spies took the reigns over productivity. During this year’s election, Councilman-elect Day’s campaign was supported by Mayor Jim Ireton, Mitchell and Shields.
“Debbie [Campbell] had her way of doing things and I think it hurt the city,” Shields said of the potential flip in council majority. “I am not always going to agree with all council members but the way the previous council majority went it stagnated Salisbury and I think we need to bring that back. If the energy is still there, I think great things will happen for Salisbury, and I think it will because the citizens spoke.”
Shields looks forward to working together with the new City Council and having a closer relationship with the Mayor’s Office and administration.
“Don’t point the finger when things don’t go well between the administration and the council. The administration, the department heads and the council all need to work together again for the betterment of Salisbury,” she said. “I want to thank all the voters that came out and exercised their right to vote yesterday. Voting is a very important issue and we need to exercise that right.”
Going into Tuesday, Day said he didn’t feel confident nor nervous, instead focused on the milestone ahead.
“We just went in, focused on what we needed to do … and prepared for a celebration,” he said on Wednesday.
Day is on the same page with Shields as he also stated he looks for the council to hire a permanent fire chief and work to adopt a downtown revitalization plan.
“First things first, I want to sit down with the other council members and begin to work together and develop an agenda everyone agrees on,” he said.
As far as the establishment of a new council majority after his election, Day doesn’t see it that way.
“There is not a new majority, it’s just that the voting block that existed … is smaller now,” he said. “I hope the five of us are able to work together and I would like to see a day that when you walk into council chambers you can’t predict the vote every time. Will Mitchell and Shields vote together on every item? I doubt it. So I hope Cohen and Spies are looking at things with fresh eyes, and looking to things similarly then how I am.”
Day believes there is hope spread among the council, city staff and citizens to move Salisbury forward.
“I am grateful for all the support I have received and all the positive conversations, and really all the input on policy, legislation and ideas people have for Salisbury and I hope that continues,” he said.