City Election Preview: Shields, Jackson and Halcott offer visions for District 1

Salisbury voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3.  In District 1, incumbent Shanie Shields is facing a challenge from April Jackson and Sarah Halcott.

Shanie Shields

Calling herself “your public servant for District 1” and joking her virtual office is at McDonald’s, where can  easily found every morning, Shields said she’s excited about her campaign for re-election.

“You see the energy Council President Jake Day has and it has come to all of our council members,” she said at the forum.

While  other candidates call for changes to stimulate downtown, she likes to point out that the free local wireless computer networking, or wi-fi, downtown.

“We already have loans for small businesses. What we need is something for our retirement community. I’m a senior citizen,” the 66-year-old Shields said.

“We need to include seniors. They need a place where they can buy Kleenex and aspirin. If anybody is thinking about starting a business, they should start a little drugstore,” she said.

A council member for 10 years, Shields said it’s important to her to keep her seat so she can “continue to be part of the renaissance  of downtown and work on a couple other projects I want to see completed  or get started,” undertakings such as completed  work that will alleviate flooding on Delaware Avenue.

She is in favor of after-school programs in neighborhoods, possibly in community centers of apartment complexes.

“I would like to encourage young people to get more involved in the government process. I would like to see someone younger than me who has a lot of energy, be involved. All our black males are not in jail. They are doing good things and they need to come forward. You have some young black males doing good things,” she said.

She’s an advocate for senior citizens and said she wants to set an example for her grandchildren, by working for the betterment of Salisbury.

She listed her priorities as curbing crime by putting preventive methods in place, protecting the environment and helping the workforce  acquire necessary skills.

April Jackson

April Jackson has presence. With an ability to make her voice resonate into a crowd as she makes a point, the 57-year-old is running on the slogan “It’s a new day. Let’s try it a new way.”

The daughter of the well-loved Billy Jean Jackson, who died in recent months, Jackson is returning to the City Council race after losing once before.

At a recent forum, she made a suggestion that brought hearty applause from the audience.

“Downtown needs new life and vigor. Eliminate the downtown island so the west side will be welcome,” she said.

The Salisbury native, retired from Home Depot, called herself “a great investment,” a visible candidate who can be reached for discussion.

“I am running as an ambitious young person with the mind to bring the community together as a whole. I can help,” she said, listing reducing crime, increasing the number of available jobs and attracting new business to town as her goals.

“It’s going to be a long road bringing businesses and industries back to this area. Entrepreneurship, teaching people who are here, training them before they become entrepreneurs, is important,” Jackson said.

She wants to see crime kept to a minimum.

“We need to come together. We need after-school programming and teaching trades to people who didn’t go to college. College is not for everybody,” she said.

“There aren’t enough jobs around here. A job with an $8 minimum wage, that is not enough to substantiate a family of four or five,” she said, adding she is a concerned citizen, parent, advocate, leader.

Jackson said businesses will come, if the workforce is prepared, or if the companies offer training. She said the main focus is to have the SU graduates stay in town after graduation.

The African-American poverty level is higher than it is among whites, and overall in Salisbury, she said, a concern because poverty and crime “go hand in hand,” she said.

Remedies include having an adopt a child mentoring program and investing in building leaders such as businessmen and businesswomen, artists and lawyers.

“We should not be investing in criminals,” she said.

Sarah Halcott

You might say it was the love of chickens that made Sarah Halcott decide to seek public office.

A potter who runs an art gallery with her husband, Halcott wanted to raise poultry at home, but learned the city didn’t allow it. So, she got involved. The result was the City Council passing the so-called chicken ordinance and welcoming the birds.

Halcott isn’t a shouting politician, but in her quiet way she makes strong points, as she did at a recent candidates’ forum, when she related that, last week, she saw a teenager near her home with what she thought was a real gun.

“I called the police and it took the police 1 ½ hours to finally drive by. I think the police need to take these kinds of issues as very, very real. We need to have police on the streets making relationships, responding quickly. Neighbors need to watch for issues like this,” she said, adding she’ll work to achieve that if she’s elected.

She also adamantly opposed the city donating land to the county, and is pleased the idea was scrapped.

The land in question, lush forested property, 35 acres of it, would have be used to build softball fields adjacent to the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex on Naylor Mill Road.

Halcott, flanked by dozens of adamant conservationists that spilled into the hallway during a public hearing at the Government Office Building, stood before  the City Council and asked them to preserve the acreage and Paleochannel, an underground water source there.

“I am very interested in saving the trees. I started an on-line petition and I’m trying to get City Council to change their minds … I’m interesting in helping the community thrive,” she said.

Halcott wants to see more people earning college degrees and opening businesses, but is concerned it isn’t affordable enough.

One man she knows opened a sandwich shop in Berlin. “I asked him why he didn’t put it in Salisbury and he said it was too expensive. We have to make it affordable to start businesses on the Plaza,” she said.

“I’ve been doing Third Fridays for a number of years. I’m an artist. I’m a potter. I want to see the economy continue to grow for the businesses and business owners like myself,” she said.

The SU graduate would also like to see city police patrolling on foot, and the city making streets safer for bikers. “Cars don’t necessarily know how to interact with them, she said.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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