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May 12, 2021

City appoints more members to boards, commissions, with 9 seats left to be filled

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Following a 30-day extension for expiring seat terms across the city’s boards and commissions, council members moved forward with 15 more appointments, leaving nine seats open.

At least 40 seats across the city’s board and commissions were slated to be vacant by March 31, with 25 members eligible for re-appointment. On March 2, more than a dozen reappointments were made by council members based on the boards in which they serve as a liaison. City council members then agreed on March 16 to extend the expiration of remaining seat terms by an additional month in an effort to receive a more diverse pool of applicants.

The request came from Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, who emphasized that the city’s boards and commissions members are “overwhelmingly white and male.” She suggested council members spend extra time receiving guidance from the UNC School of Government. But to address that issue, City Clerk Kelly Baker said questions about gender and ethnicity are now included on applications, following a similar action taken by the city of Charlotte.

Following a request from Heggins, Baker conducted and provided council members with a demographic assessment of existing members on the city’s boards, committees and commissions. Prior to the reappointments made on March 2, 72% of those members were white, 20% were Black, 6% were Hispanic and 3% were Asian. However, 56% of members were women, while 44% were male. These figures also included the eight city appointments made to three county boards.

Following the extension on March 16 and as of Wednesday, Baker told the Post nine additional applications were received. Among those are three white male applicants, two Hispanic male applicants and one Black male applicant. Among the three women, one is white, one is Black and one is Hispanic.

Council members made 15 appointments Tuesday. Heggins, a liaison for the Human Relations Council, selected Brunetta Franklin, a Black woman, along with Preston Sale to fill the two remaining seats. Alissa Redmond and Colleen Smiley were reappointed at the March 2 meeting.

Council members approved Tamara Sheffield’s nomination of Michael Mills, Jeffrey Martinez, a Hispanic man, and Kelly Vanager, a woman, to the Community Appearance Commission. Members Lewellen Padgett and Hugo Correa were reappointed last month.

Sheffield also selected local Realtor Susanna Hollingsworth to fill an empty seat on the Housing Advocacy Commission. Following the appointment of Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black and Lorenzo Debose to the commission last month, that leaves one open seat.

The Planning Board does not currently have a city council member serving as a liaison, but council members approved the reappointment of John Struzick, Dennis Rogers, Jon Post, Jayne Land and Timothy Norris to the board, leaving three open seats with two to be appointed by council members.

Council members approved Sheffield’s request to reappoint Steven Cobb and Jon Planovsky and appoint Marcella Mensa to the Historic Preservation Commission.

Mayor Karen Alexander, who serves with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, selected Dennis Rogers, a Black man, to fill the vacant seat. Last month, Russell Smyre, a Black man, and Jon Post, who’s Jewish, were reappointed to their terms.

Council member David Post requested the council revisit an appointment to the Transportation Advisory Board to clarify requirements for the open seat. Members Levi Coldiron, Cristina Rodriguez and Laura Schmidt were reappointed at the March 2 meeting.

Three seats are currently vacant on the Greenway, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee. Members Lisa Wear, Amy Smith and Edward Hirst are all eligible for reappointment, but council members decided to speak with them personally and suggest allowing “new blood” join the board. Post said all three have served three terms, and the committee does not currently have term limits. There are currently two applicants, with the potential for one of the current members to be reappointed.

Following the additional appointments Tuesday, three seats remain on the Greenway, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, while the Historic Preservation Commission has two open seats, the Housing Advocacy Commission has one seat, the Planning Board has two open seats for city appointments and the Transportation Advisory Board has one open seat.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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