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October 23, 2021

Darts and Laurels: Thin veil better than explicit partisanship in municipal races

Dart to the heightened involvement of partisan politics in Salisbury’s municipal elections.

It began with the parties explicitly endorsing or soliciting volunteers for candidates and has grown from there, with local political parties issuing repeated, public endorsements of and promotions for candidates. Parties are now hosting forums specifically for their candidates, too.

The closer Salisbury gets to an explicit partisan contest, the more local races will mirror divisive national elections, where rhetoric brands people with different beliefs as the enemy. Voters who might be persuadable will use party affiliation as a proxy for learning more about a candidate’s positions.

Another problem is that there’s no Republican or Democratic way to handle the nuts and bolts of governing — passing a balanced budget, zoning matters and paving streets among them.

A thin veil of separation is better than direct ties to partisanship in local elections. Candidates’ different ideas about how to handle basics of government can exist outside of the structure of political parties. Candidates can challenge people in power and raise tough questions about existing practices without political parties, too. Unknown candidates can receive support from people that comprise a political party without explicit overtures. Citizen groups can provide support without the labels of Democrat and Republican.

It’s similar to why party affiliation is best left off of judicial races. Rowan County’s judges are elected to hear facts in a case and render a verdict or sentence based on the law, not their political beliefs.

Continuing to inject party politics into municipal elections will make local politics too similar to Washington, D.C. That’s not a good thing.

Unfortunately, there’s probably no going back now.

Laurel to fresh ideas about old buildings.

After being vacated by Wells Fargo in 2019, the former bank building at the corner of South Main and Fisher streets has been mostly empty, with just a few office tenants. But Greg Alcorn, who purchased the building, and Gianni Moscardini, who owns La Cava and chairs the Downtown Salisbury Inc. Board of Directors, have come up with a new idea: a cooperative market on the first floor.

There could be a butcher shop and seafood store. How about a small grocery store with fresh produce, too? Those could be welcome additions to downtown. Other downtown businesses might not be too thrilled about an additional deli or wine and beer store.

Filling downtown storefronts can be challenging when online shopping has changed consumer spending habits. Emerging work-from-home practices make it tougher than usual to recruit employers in need of traditional office space. Still, there are some good ideas floating around about the Wells Fargo building.

Laurel to the Salisbury High School Hornets for continuing to steamroll the football competition.

Just several months removed from winning a state championship, the Hornets look like serious contenders for a repeat. That’s made possible by some of its better-known players, including Jalon Walker, JyMikaah Wells, Mike Geter, Nick Hall and Deuce Walker, but there are other important starters and role players who have been critical in the team’s wins.

Before this year’s seniors graduate and the season ends, do yourself a favor and see the magnificent Salisbury Hornets play in person. They’ll play North Rowan at home Oct. 29 in a matchup of two, good local teams. And the Hornets will be back in Ludwig Stadium for playoff competition.

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