Jack Heath assumes mantle as Salisbury's Mayor

By Greg Bassett
Posted 1/28/23

There were moments Friday evening in which Jack Heath might have waded into sentimentality and emotion when being sworn in as the new Mayor of Salisbury.

But the 69-year-old retired businessman …

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Jack Heath assumes mantle as Salisbury's Mayor


There were moments Friday evening in which Jack Heath might have waded into sentimentality and emotion when being sworn in as the new Mayor of Salisbury.

But the 76-year-old retired businessman – who one onlooker in the crowd that assembled at Salisbury Fire Department Headquarters described as “the nicest guy you’ll ever meet” – instead reviewed his mayoral task list and called on city employees to help him serve the citizens.

“Over the last eight years I’ve watched a team of over 450 dedicated employees make the vision of the mayor and City Council come to life each day,” said Heath, who will serve as Acting Mayor until this November’s election.

“In these last few weeks, I caught a glimpse of our next chapter – our greatest asset is our people – and you will be the heroes of the next chapter of Salisbury,” he said, while pointing at firefighters, police officers and other city employees in attendance.

Salisbury’s transition in executive leadership became necessary when eight-year Mayor Jake Day’ announced he will depart Salisbury’s government for an important state post in Annapolis.

Day is slated to join Gov. Wes Moore’s cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Community Development.

Day, who was feted in an event of his own held Thursday night at Salisbury University, was in the crowd to see his successor sworn in.

In a speech after his swearing-in, Heath saluted Day, and said his experiences with the get-it-done Day will only help him as his service to Salisbury expands.

“I am incredibly humbled and honored to be here tonight,” Heath said. “I’ll admit, when I heard Jake was resigning as mayor, I was sad that we wouldn’t be working together in the same capacity. Over the next few days following, though, I began to see how I was well-suited as the city’s next leader and started to piece together the picture of the next chapter of Salisbury.”

Heath, the City Council’s President for the past eight years, pledged a commitment to public safety – “Our people must have the resources and technology,” he said – as well as affordable housing and expanded business opportunities.

“We have so many great things coming to Salisbury,” he said.

Heath is well-known for sharing his pride in the accomplishments of his extended family. He used his speech several times to laud them, as well as thank family members for their backing as he begins what historically has been a challenging post.

“Your love has brought me stability over the last eight years while I served on the City Council,” he said to his wife, daughters and grandchildren..

Day is leaving after serving 10 years in city government – two years as a council member and eight years as the city’s top leader. Heath has served as Council President for eight years.

Heath’s elevation means there will be a council vacancy in District 3. The council will have until Feb. 24 to select someone to fill Heath’s unexpired term.

In his farewell speech delivered a week ago, Day extensively praised Heath as a worthy successor.

“There is no doubt that the man to carry the torch as I step away is Jack Heath,” he said. “There is no person better briefed, more knowledgeable, or more prepared to preside over the operations of the city.

“He has been a CEO in the business world, a CEO in the nonprofit world, a tireless advocate for those with disabilities, an engaged neighborhood representative, a volunteer firefighter and your City Council President for the last eight years,” Day said.

In his own remarks, Heath listed many of Day’s most notable accomplishments and declared he wanted his own leadership to follow a similar path.

“We have changed the culture (of city government) as demanded by this man,” Heath said, pointing to Day. “And we have accomplished what we’ve accomplished because we work together. And it’s going to change. If we did not have the department heads that we have, and if we did not have the council that we have, I would not have accepted this position.”  

He added: “You can expect us to keep the vision going.”

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