District 1: Jackson holds substantial lead over Shields

The real surprise on Election Day was the upset in District 1, where newcomer April Jackson appears to have defeated longtime incumbent Shanie Shields.

Jackson, daughter of the late Billy Gene Jackson, a well-respected activist known for his positive influence on youth, got 133 votes to the 112 received by Shields, who has been on the City Council 10 years.

Absentees could still decide the outcome, but Jackson’s lead is substantial.

Sarah Halcott, a first-time candidate, managed 27 votes. Absentee ballots haven’t yet been counted.

About 11 percent of Salisbury’s 13,455 registered voters went to the polls Tuesday.

Running on the slogan, “It’s a new day. Let’s try it a new way,” the 57-year-old Jackson called for a rejuvenated downtown during her campaign.

“Downtown needs new life and vigor. Eliminate the downtown island so the west side will be welcome,” she said at a candidates’ forum, to hearty applause.

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, in a voice that resonated throughout the crowd.

She listed 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.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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