The Salisbury District 1 council race is the toughest to examine. Rightly or wrongly, many District 1 voters consider themselves the red-headed stepchild of Salisbury government. For eight years they have been represented by Shanie Shields. For eight years, little has been accomplished for the citizens which she is supposed to represent.
In an unusual twist, Shields has two opponents in the general election. Cynthia Polk (who lost to Shields by one vote four years ago) and April Jackson tied in the primary. This all but assures Shields of re-election, and District 1 residents of at least another 2 1/2 years of poor representation.
None here at SBYNews have been afforded the opportunity to hear all three candidates very often in this race. The candidate forums have been a poor venue because candidates are given little time to respond to questions and usually fall back to platitudes.
Shields should not be re-elected. Her record has been one of more strongly representing a few special-interests than in representing her constituents. She has been almost hostile towards the city’s police department. Her worst offense has been to claim that she wants civility on council. She seldom hesitates to attack fellow council members Debbie Campbell, Terry Cohen or Tim Spies when they disagree with her. It was Shields who actually shared the soapbox with mayor Jim Ireton to imply that the council majority were “racists” because they would not agree to building quarter million dollar apartments in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods (councilwoman Laura Mitchell simply stood in the crowd and applauded). Shields even suggested that residents should engage in a racially-motivated riot.
That leaves voters with a choice between Polk and Jackson. Admittedly, we have seen neither diverge on the core issues facing Salisbury. Polk is a small business owner and we would expect her to be more business friendly. Given that Salisbury needs to change its public face in dealing with business in order to improve the city overall, District 1 voters should rally behind Mrs. Polk. Another 2 1/2 years of Shanie Shields on the city council is neither good for Salisbury nor for the good people of District 1. Cynthia Polk affords District 1 AND Salisbury a chance to move towards a better future.