Day unopposed in mayor’s race; Ireton faces competition

With less than three months to the city election, 14 contenders in five districts — and a lone candidate for mayor — have filed for election and are articulating their goals.

Jake Day, now the city council president, will run unopposed for mayor, as current Mayor Jim Ireton faces two others in a council contest.

Candidates in District 1 are incumbent Shanie Shields and newcomers April Jackson and Sarah Walcott.

In District 2, they are Keyvan  Aarabi, Marvin Ames and Muir Boda.

District 3 will feature incumbents Tim Spies and Jack Heath, as well as newcomer Kevin Lindsay.

In District 4, contenders are Ireton and newcomers Kenneth Vickers III and Roger Mazzullo.

In District 5, Councilwoman Laura Mitchell will run for re-election unopposed.

The election is Nov. 3.

Day, 33, an urban planner finishing his second year on the council, has vowed to assure residents the city is heading toward a new dawn.

He said that, as mayor, he will focus on economy, jobs and economic development.

“In 20 years, Salisbury would have a brand and a spirit that match,” he said. It would live up to his favorite description for the city  — the capital of the Eastern Shore.

“I see us continuing to grow. I see us being a more economically diverse place with more medium-sized businesses. Large industries will begin to grow with us,” he said.

“I wouldn’t run for mayor if I wasn’t confident I could do it. I don’t have a healthy enough ego to think I can do it without the city council and the community being there with me,” he said.

 

District 1

 

District 1 incumbent Shields has been on the council for a decade and wants to “continue to be part of renaissance of Downtown and work on a couple other projects I want to see completed  or get started.”

They include seeing work completed to 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.

The 66-year-old Shields is an advocate for senior citizens and said she wants to set an example for her grandchildren, by working for the betterment of Salisbury.

Challenger April Jackson, 67 and a Salisbury native, is retired from Home Depot.

She ran for council two years ago and lost and is now running as, she said, “an ambitious young person with the mind to bring the community together as a whole.”

“I can help,” she said, listing crime, jobs and attracting new business to town.

“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 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.

Halcott couldn’t be reached for comment.

 

District 2

Ames was born in Crisfield and grew up in Salisbury. The 45-year-old maintenance supervisor at the Wicomico County Civic Center is running for a city seat for the first time. Last year, he lost to Ernie Davis in a race for County Council.

“It’s about leadership. Salisbury needs to have new, fresh blood for ideas to move the city forward. I’m not saying the leaders now are bad, but times have changed enough and the city has to mature,” he said.

Ames would like to see police officers and city residents “more engaged with each other” and officers who regularly patrol, who are familiar faces.

He believes more money should be invested to help at-risk students and that middle school students should be assisted so they excel in high school.

Aarabi, 33, who teaches world history and related classes at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Wor-Wic Community College, is running for the first time.

A native of Iran who is an American citizen, he said he filed because he wants to help those who feel overwhelmed or need better jobs.

His goals are drawing businesses to the city, lowering taxes, easing regulations, developing a more friendly government and offering training opportunities, “so skills aren’t wasted,” he said.

His goal is to add 8,000 jobs, and not just minimum-wage positions.

“We are hemorrhaging too many jobs. About one-third of the people in Salisbury are living at the poverty level or below,” he said.

He will host a town hall meeting Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the library.

Neither Boda nor Gregoli could  be reached for comment.

 

District 3

Incumbent  Jack Heath, appointed in September last year to fill the remainder of Councilwoman Terry Cohen’s term, said his business background has helped him serve on the council.

“I have applied some of the best practices in my business career  to the government sector,” the 68-year-old said.

Among them is fiscal responsibility, as well as protecting  financial stability, he said. He doesn’t believe in reducing the city’s surplus unless it’s an emergency, saying, “that’s what the surplus is there for.”

Heath also believes in accountability and setting goals and objectives. “My engineering background taught me numbers and metrics are very important … and we have to try to apply that instead of emotion,” he said.

A chemical engineer, Heath has run several businesses and been involved in manufacturing. Technically retired, his last job was running Lower Shore Enterprises.

Meanwhile, Spies, 64, is running for a second term.

“I looked very hard at what the issues have been. I feel someone is needed who lives in the district, especially the Camden area. Part of the Camden area is now in a different district but those issues are still plain as day to me. They have to do with drug use, crime, unemployment,” he said.

He said he wants to keep properties looking “like they belong here,” attractive homes, not packed dirt for front yards and trash thrown in the streets.

“This used to be a professional district. There are still a good number of them. Those people deserve to be represented directly, not by someone who lives elsewhere but by someone who lives in the thick of it, like me, and who has experience,” he said.

Spies said he is well-versed in what the city’s problems are.

“I walk the walk and talk the talk for the Camden area,” he said.

He said the hallmark of his term are the ideas he has had to help the city run more smoothly while saving money.

Now retired, Spies retired from the U.S. Navy in 2002 and from a nursing career in 2010.

Lindsay, 38 and a case manager for Goodwill, said the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Rakim Russell prompted him to file for election.

“I knew Rakim when he was little. I knew his mom. Rakim used to run through my house, drink up all my sodas. I went to the viewing and it affected me in a way to say, ‘What can I do?’ We do a lot of talking, but this would be my opportunity to do something for the city,” he said.

“I want young people growing up in Salisbury to see a face. Maybe they can recognize and see a face doing something for the community,” he said.

 

District 4

Ireton, 45, is ending his second term as mayor but instead of running for re-election, decided to go back to serving on the city council.

He said he will continue to concentrate on three goals that have been his focus – downtown revitalization, neighborhood integrity and health of the Wicomico River.

As city councilman, Ireton said it won’t be any easier or harder to push for changes that will improve the city than it has been as mayor.

“No, it’s apples to oranges. My job would not be to tell the mayor what to do, or to tell the department heads what to do. My job would be to try and write successful legislation that gives power to department heads,” Ireton said.

If voters return him to the city council, it will be a different position, one that will require a change of perspective, he said.

“Is it going to be as much fun as being mayor? I don’t know. But it’s about finding the best place for your efforts. I am there because people who live in our neighborhoods know they have to have a champion on the city council,” he said.

“If there is one thing our community knows about me, I’m going to  stand up for neighborhood integrity.”

Neither Vickers, Mazullo nor Mitchell could not be reached for comment.

Council president is paid $12,000 annually and council members earn $10,000. The mayor’s yearly salary is $25,000.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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