Salaam declares candidacy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 11, 2004

After considerable reflection and contemplation, Yusuf Salaam is running for mayor.

Salaam, state representative for District 67, said he was approached by ranking officers of the Selma Police Department, who asked him to run. &uot;Under the current mayoral situation, the collective need has become more important than individual needs,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;The key to government is law and order. If there’s no law and order, there’s no government.&uot;

Concerning Selma’s crime issue, Salaam said he would address the problem as it was addressed in East Selma between 1998 and 2000. Strong community involvement, a community policing plan instead of reactive policing and a whole-scale coordination between all levels of law enforcement were a few methods of curbing the city’s crime. &uot;That’s a sure-fire formula for success,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;We see the streets of Selma are literally flowing with the blood of homicide victims. I pledge to restore a proper relationship between the chief executive officer and the police department. I pledge to refrain from engaging in the self-defeating administrative policy of unsound micro-management.&uot;

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According to Salaam, Selma’s mayor must picture himself as a leader and a limited manager who respects the knowledge, skills and expertise of his department heads. &uot;I would have the common sense to respect a department head with 20 years of experience in law enforcement, fire fighting, community development, public works administration and even cemetery management,&uot; he said. &uot;The bottom line is that they’ve paid their dues just as I have. I’d have the good sense to let them demonstrate their abilities.&uot;

Salaam said he would focus his attention on areas of government under the purview of the mayor. &uot;No police chief can bring industry to Selma,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;No fire chief can be responsible for projecting sober collaboration with the City Council. Micro-management is self-defeating because it dissipates focus, energy and flexibility.&uot;

In order to bring jobs to Selma, Salaam said he would fashion a policy designed to take advantage of Selma’s global status. Corporations want to repay Selma for its contributions to society, but that enthusiasm is dampened when they see the city’s negatives, Salaam said. &uot;I’d readily acknowledge problems, but quickly point out that we have active strategies,&uot; he added.

Those strategies would take the form of three, five and 10-year plans. &uot;I’d encourage people to take a sober risk on us for us to fix our problems,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;Look what we’ve got in place and take a chance on us solving these problems.&uot;

Salaam pledged his administration would be open and honest. &uot;Executive sessions are needed under certain circumstances, but I think the process has been somewhat abused,&uot; Salaam said. Salaam cited fear, intimidation and occasionally a lack of governmental experience as reasons the council entered executive sessions.

Concerning the city’s finances, Salaam said he’d bring a sound fiscal approach to the city’s resources. He noted that former City Clerk Jackie Smith, and former financial directors Bob Sanders and Vickie Locke have left office since 2000. &uot;Law enforcement efforts and shaky financial and fiscal liquidity indicate that we need someone as mayor who can rectify the defects in sound municipal government,&uot; Salaam said.

Salaam added that as mayor he would work cooperatively with governmental entities such as the Selma City Council, Dallas County Commission, Enhanced 911 board, Selma Water Works and Sewer Board and Valley Grande. &uot;I pledge to struggle to bring an end to the divisive county civil war between north Dallas and south Dallas County,&uot; Salaam said. &uot;I pledge to work respectfully and humbly with the Selma City Council. I pledge to strive diligently to avoid unnecessary public strife and controversy that would place a chill on the ability to promote a healthy economic climate in the City of Selma.&uot;

Salaam was born and raised in Columbus, Ga., and came to Selma in 1984. He was the first black four-year graduate of the University of Georgia in 1971. He gained his law degree from the University of Miami’s law school in 1975 and continued his law studies at the University of Wisconsin.

Salaam was elected to the Selma City Council in 1993 and re-elected four years later. He also served as the council’s president pro tempore in his second term.

After a brief rest from public life, he was elected to his current position as state representative in 2002. &uot;After having served in the state house for a little over one year, it’s safe to say that most of my colleagues appreciate my contribution to the legislative institution,&uot; Salaam said.

Salaam’s wife is Khayriyyah Salaam, whom he married in 1971. They have five children.