RALEIGH — Mayor Charles Meeker, who has led the Capital City through a decade of significant growth, will not seek a record sixth consecutive term in October.
The decision, announced today at a 10 a.m. press conference, leaves Meeker tied with with fellow Democrat Avery C. Upchurch for the longest consecutive run as mayor of the city.
"This being my 10th year as mayor, the question isn't so much whether it's time to move on," Meeker said. "It's when is the right time to move on."
Meeker, a partner at Raleigh law firm Parker, Poe, Adams and Bernstein, said he intends to practice law full-time and has no plans to run for any other office.
Under Meeker's leadership, the city re-opened Fayetteville Street Mall to vehicle traffic, managed the construction of a $221 million convention center and invested millions more in a hotel and high-tech public plaza.
Downtown's Glenwood South district has evolved into a popular dining, drinking and dancing destination. Campbell Law School moved its campus downtown, and plans are under way for renovations to Moore Square.
Also, private projects worth more than $2 billion have been completed or planned downtown on Meeker's watch.
Supporters and critics of his policies say his tenure has brought security needed for such large-scale development.
"We've had a complete renaissance of our downtown, in part because of Charles, " Philip Isley, a Republican attorney who served on the council with Meeker for eight years, and has at times been critical of the mayor, said during a January interview. "He's sort of been good at herding. With our system, he's just got one vote, but he does wield a significant amount of influence over some councilors."
Meeker moved to Raleigh in 1975 after graduating from Columbia University Law School. He took a job with a law firm that later became Parker, Poe, Adams and Bernstein, where he still works as a partner representing local governments in tax assessment cases.
He has run for elected office 12 times, served eight years on the City Council between 1985 and 1995, and made two unsuccessful bids for mayor before winning in 2001.
Meeker recalled that he nearly stepped aside four years ago but didn't want to leave with Raleigh in the throes of the recession. Now, the city shows signs of a recovery.
"It seems like a much better time for there to be a transition in leadership," he said.
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