Incumbents win big in Raleigh council races

josh.shaffer@newsobserver.comOctober 11, 2011 

— Incumbents won easy re-election in City Council races today in Raleigh.

The only newcomer bound for City Hall is Randy Stagner with about 59 percent of the vote for the vacant seat in District A. He outpolled challenger Gale Wilkins, who had 41 percent.

Stagner, 55, is a retired Army colonel who campaigned on expanded transit and greenways along with improving water quality in Falls Lake. He probably will represent the North Raleigh seat being vacated by Nancy McFarlane, who was leading the race for Raleigh’s next mayor by a large margin.

Council member Eugene Weeks defeated a crowded field by a large margin in District C, the only other contested district race in Raleigh. He took 56 percent of the vote, with Racquel Williams leading as the closest challenger at 15 percent. A runoff race there looked unlikely.

Council members Russ Stephenson and Mary-Ann Baldwin won in the at-large race, which elects the top two vote-getters. Baldwin led with 40.3 percent of the vote, Stephenson followed with 37.8 percent and challenger Paul Fitts trailed with 21.5 percent.

Three council members ran unopposed and will advance to new terms: John Odom in District B, Thomas Crowder in District D and Bonner Gaylord in District E.

The Raleigh race was the first contest in a decade without Mayor Charles Meeker on the ballot. Meeker will step down after serving five terms as mayor and many more on the council.

Growth and how to manage it topped the list of candidates' concerns as Raleigh inches toward 500,000 people. Also, candidates spoke of balancing the needs of a growing city in rough economic times -- specifically, how to build a more austere new home for emergency workers than the $205 million, 17-story tower that stalled in the last council.

And though candidates run unopposed in three of eight districts, this year's race did draw enough would-be council members to create some crowded races.

District C, mainly in Southeast Raleigh, for instance, had five contenders.

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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