It was a packed house Wednesday night as Salisbury University hosted a mayoral debate between incumbent Mayor Jake Day and challenger Wayne King.
Members of both the Salisbury community and University flocked to Guerrieri Student Union’s Wicomico Room to watch King and Day’s debate.
Day, a Salisbury native, is running for his second term as Salisbury mayor.
King, a native of Huntington, New York, recently moved to Salisbury and believes that with his background in business, he can help the city.
“There’s a very good reason why I’m running for mayor. I truly believe that I can help this city out and set it in the right direction.” King said to the audience. “Being an outsider with my lengthy business experience, I find myself perfect for this job. I have the ability to look at things with an open mind and out-of-the-box feeling.”
Issues that both candidates debated included the liquor license board, the economy, spending on the downtown area and crime.
King brought up crime, a key issue on his platform, numerous times during the debate. King did not believe Day’s statements that crime in the Salisbury community was getting better.
When asked how he would solve the crime issues that he sees in the neighborhood, King simply stated that he would arrest people committing crimes.
“I would arrest them; I would not let them sit there and sell drugs,” King said to the audience. “I see it in my neighborhood, I see it in everybody’s neighborhood. These guys are not getting picked up.”
Both candidates agreed that supply and demand and more single-family homes will help the city increase homeownership and lower rent prices.
King stated that he appreciated the entrepreneurship program at Salisbury, and with his experience in business, would love to get the city more involved in that if elected.
“One of the best things that I liked, and something that was spoke about on my platform, is what they’re presently doing right now is setting up an entrepreneurship program in the downtown,” King said. “I would love to be part of that, and I’d love to get even more involved as far as the city getting involved.”
“With my experience running a small business for over 20 years, I can certainly help anybody who wants any help with that,” he said.
Day stated that the relationship between the city and the university has improved since 2013, giving all the credit to Salisbury University for improving this relationship.
“We have transformed the relationship between Dr. [Janet Dudley-] Eshbach and now Dr. [Charles A.] Wight, myself and this university to a point where when you attend the neighborhood relations meetings, the downtown meetings and its discussions about how strong those partnerships are, how strong the relationship with the university is,” Day said. “The city doesn’t deserve credit for that. The credit goes to Salisbury University for clearly sending the message that the relationship with the city is critical.”
Day also explained how his creations of the Mayor’s Prize and the Buy a Home, Build a Business program have benefited the community by keeping businesses here is Salisbury.
“We created the Mayor’s Prize, and we’ve invested directly into them, so we no longer look in the eye of an entrepreneur who’s going to leave this town. Instead, they’re community,” Day said. “We’ve also invested in the Buy A Home, Build a Business program to not only help them stay here as part of the business community, but to help them own a home in our city limits.”
If elected, King plans on interacting with Salisbury University by meeting with the school’s board and president. King said that bringing more jobs here will make Salisbury an appealing place for younger citizens and Salisbury University graduates to live.
“As far as young people staying here, I need to bring jobs here for them to stay here and be comfortable here,” King said. “Right now, 1% of the college graduates stay here. About 80 people are staying here a year, which is not bad, but we can increase that.”
Day said that he will continue to be involved in the campus community, programs such as Buy A Home, Build A Business, Mayor’s Prize and Gull Cage competition, as well as continue to hire SU students as interns in the mayor’s office.
“My favorite thing about this job is when I get into a class at Salisbury University and get to talk to students; [they] are bright, and they’re interested and they’re engaged, and they have questions.” Day said. “You’re going to find me in classrooms, you’re going to find me on campus in the coming years.”
Salisbury senior Will Fried was glad that the university and the city have such a great relationship together for this debate to be hosted at Salisbury University.
“I thought it was just an amazing thing for us as a campus community with how inclusive Salisbury University is with the city … and how the city officials try to get the students to try to be involved in our city as much as possible,” Fried said.
Benjamin Brunner, a Salisbury senior, said that this was his first time being at a political debate and is glad that he was able to attend the debate at Salisbury University to hear both Day and Knight discuss key issues that impact Salisbury.
“It’s a great thing that we have First Amendment rights that allow us to have open forums like this where we can discuss the issues and hear our future city leaders discuss the issues,” Brunner said.
Students that are registered to vote in the city of Salisbury may cast their vote for mayor, city council and more on Tuesday, Nov. 5, Election Day.
By BRANDON STARK
Featured image: Wayne King / Don Rush images.