McFarlane era to begin Monday in Raleigh

The mayor-elect will take the oath with members of the Raleigh City Council.

mgarfield@newsobserver.comDecember 4, 2011 

  • A public swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected mayor and city council is set for 7 p.m. Monday in the Cabarrus Street lobby of the Raleigh Convention Center. A crowd of more than 300 is expected.

— Mayor-elect Nancy McFarlane and City Council members will take their oath of office Monday, marking the start of a new era for Raleigh city government.

McFarlane will become the city's first new mayor in a decade after Charles Meeker chose not to seek a sixth consecutive term.

A pharmacy owner, McFarlane has served on the council since 2007 - part of a cast of veterans who will remain for another two years.

The lone newcomer is Randy Stanger, a retired U.S. Army colonel elected to fill the District A seat vacated by McFarlane.

The transition from Meeker to McFarlane won't bring major changes to the direction of the city, says Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce since 1994.

"The voters, when choosing McFarlane, were looking for continuation," Schmitt said. "There may be some style differences, but I think substantively, the two of them were pretty close in alignment."

Guests will notice at least one big change from the last swearing-in ceremony: Not nearly as much food.

The city plans to spend $2,000 for fruit and cheese trays and light refreshments, said Jayne Kirkpatrick, a spokeswoman for the city.

Beer and wine will be donated by Raleigh beverage companies Mims Distributing Co. and Mutual Distributing Co.

Two years ago, Raleigh officials were criticized for spending $9,800 on a reception that included antipasti, hibachi beef skewers and curried chicken kabobs.

The reception was held the night before the City Council met to discuss a possible raise in property taxes to help pay for city projects.

Amid the criticism, Meeker designated $6,400 from his campaign funds to help defray the cost, saying he was embarrassed when he learned of the price tag for the reception. The mayor said he thought the remaining $3,454.66 was a reasonable amount for the public to pay.

Familiar faces to return

District B representative John Odom ranks No. 1 in seniority with seven terms in office. Odom served from 1993 through 2003 and returned in 2009 for his most recent two-year term.

Thomas Crowder has the second-most seniority as District D representative since 2003.

The two at-large representatives are Russ Stephenson, returning for his fourth consecutive term, and Mary-Ann Baldwin, set to begin her third.

Bonner Gaylord is beginning his second term representing District E.

Eugene Weeks will open his first full term in District C. He was appointed last year to complete the unexpired term of James West, who joined the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Garfield: 919-836-4952

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