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New council member to be sworn in Thursday

After being down a member for months, the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will return to full strength Thursday afternoon when the vacancy is filled.

Joe Zalescik is scheduled to be sworn in as the city’s at-large commissioner during a meeting that begins at 2 p.m.

Zalescik was selected to fill the void in a split vote by the existing four board members during their last meeting on Sept. 16 after five people had sought the office altogether.

The opening was created through a series of events that began with the resignation of Mayor David Rowe one year ago this coming Friday.

Ron Niland, who then was serving as at-large commissioner and also mayor pro tem, or vice mayor, assumed the chief executive duties while remaining a commissioner until being appointed mayor by the board in May.

That resulted in the vacancy, with officials subsequently launching an application process for the commissioner slot which led to Zalescik’s selection last month.

He is slated to be sworn in Thursday by Mayor Niland, whose former seat he will fill.

Zalescik said Tuesday that he is looking forward to coming aboard, and already has identified some goals once taking office.

“The Spencer’s redevelopment is probably one of the biggest things,” he said of ongoing efforts to find new uses for the former industrial property owned by the municipality since 2014.

“To support that and all the phases of it,” Zalescik added.

Another concern involves the distribution of COVID-relief funding allocated to Mount Airy through the American Rescue Plan Act, which has been proposed for multiple uses.

Zalescik said his work with the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will involve listening, deliberating and then acting on issues.

The council appointee, 60, came to Mount Airy from New Jersey about two years ago and owns Station 1978 Firehouse Peanuts, a local small business operating on a mobile basis. A list of credentials Zalescik submitted when applying for the commissioner slot states that he served on elected commissions in New Jersey.

He retired as a media specialist in the health-care field in that state after a nearly 40-year career.

While here, Zalescik has become a member of the Mount Airy Planning Board and is the coordinator of the city farmers market.

“I’m looking forward to serving the residents of Mount Airy, I really am,” he said Tuesday regarding the commissioner appointment.

The at-large seat will be at stake in 2022 under an even-year election format approved by the N.C. General Assembly for the municipality.

Mount Airy’s elections long have been conducted in odd-numbered years, with the change including none being held in 2021.



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