The first press shots across the bow by Salisbury mayoral challenger Joe Albero came in a slickly produced press release decrying incumbent Jim Ireton for…not showing up at a boxing event.
When I saw the headline “Albero Supports Youth Sports Program” my first thought was, okay, where is he going to get the money to pay for it? Instead, the thin gruel I was subjected to went like this:
Salisbury mayoral candidate Joe Albero attended Saturday’s “Warriors of the Ring” event at the Main Street Gym. The event was in support of Main Street Gym’s youth boxing program. Albero and his wife Jennifer, along with other local businesspersons such as John Robinson and Danny Burt, were sponsors of Saturday’s event.
Albero stated, “The work that Hal Chernoff has done with our local youth is phenomenal! Boxing is a great sport which instills the values of hard work and discipline. These are the same traits which will help these young people succeed as adults.”
Albero lamented the absence of his opponent, incumbent mayor Jim Ireton. “I’m sorry that Jim wasn’t able to be here tonight. We were both asked to participate in tonight’s event. Regrettably, Jim felt that campaigning was more important than showing support for this great program and our area youth.”
Both candidates had been invited to participate in Saturday’s event. Ireton declined, stating that he was too busy campaigning for re-election.
So Jim Ireton decided not to show up at a boxing match in favor of “campaigning,” yet his opponent makes a campaign issue out of it. I think I’d be more worried if Ireton didn’t show up at a mayoral forum.
This superficial criticism seems to set a poor tone for the remainder of the campaign. The question, to me, is not whether Joe Albero went to a boxing match or whether Jim Ireton skipped it, but what steps would either take to support the youth sports program, whether with or without city resources. That’s what you titled the press release! As a blogger, Joe should know better. And if you want to base your vote on the fact Albero shows up at certain events, well, there’s not much I can do to help you.
It’s bad enough that Jim Ireton promises more of the same. From his Facebook page:
I am looking forward to talking to citizens about how our city has significantly lowered crime rates, how we have created the first Wicomico River Watershed Plan, and how we have partnered with so many businesses and groups in the continued revitalization of our neighborhoods and our downtown. Salisbury has made great strides by saying “YES” to so many partnerships with those who want our city to succeed and I am excited to ask our citizens to let me continue to lead on important issues. For all the times other elected officials have said “NO” to our citizens, I have said “YES” to moving Salisbury forward.
While it can be argued that crime is indeed down and the city received a small quasi-federal grant (read: borrowed money), the key economic indicators don’t seem to be heading in the right direction, as businesses continue to shut their doors. Eventually that will bring the crime rate back up.
(One of those fairly recent business casualties belonged to the aforementioned Robinson – who, in the interest of disclosure, happens to be one of my advertisers for a separate business – as the Delmarva Crossroads newspaper never really got off the ground after last summer’s debut. In that same post I noted the proposed opening of the Aqua Restaurant, and guess what? They went belly-up in a matter of weeks, too. So much for downtown revitalization.)
Year-over-year, Salisbury’s statistical metropolitan area (which includes all of Somerset and Wicomico counties, with Salisbury being the principal driver) had an unemployment rate improvement of just 0.1% (8.7% to 8.6%) which placed it both above the national average and in the bottom quadrant of improvement overall when compared to the 371 other statistical areas around the country. (We did better than the Baltimore-Towson and Dover statistical areas in improvement, but their base rates are far lower.)
So the real question has thus far been ignored. How do you bring prosperity back to our fair city? Start answering.
Update: Since I originally wrote this, Albero put out another release which is somewhat of an improvement but still short on details.