Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Raleigh Council members preparing for fall campaigns

April 12, 2013 

The next Raleigh City Council election is still six months away, but current members are already laying the foundation for their campaigns.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane and nearly all the council members say they’ll seek another term. Mary-Ann Baldwin, an at-large councilwoman, is the only incumbent left undecided, and she says she’ll announce her decision later this month.

“I have served for three terms, but there’s still things I want to accomplish around innovation, entrepreneurship and branding,” Baldwin said.

Councilmen Randy Stagner, Eugene Weeks, Russ Stephenson, Thomas Crowder, Bonner Gaylord and John Odom all have announced they’ll run in October. Many are already holding campaign fundraising events.

So far, no challengers have announced they’re running, though some are considering it.

One of Weeks’ opponents in 2011, Corey Branch, says he’s considering another run but is leaning toward the at-large race this time. He plans to make his decision closer to the filing deadline, the week of July 15.

High school name reconsidered

One community’s fight to preserve its legacy through the naming of a new high school seems to have won over the Wake County school board and the Apex Town Council.

Members of both boards said this week they’re looking at abandoning the name West Apex High School in favor of Apex-Friendship High or Friendship-Apex High. The name would mention both the town and the unincorporated community of Friendship, which got its name because Native Americans, blacks and whites decided to coexist peacefully there in the 19th century.

“We want to find some common ground,” said Apex Town Councilman Scott Lassiter at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “We want to make sure that Friendship is included and incorporated in the heritage and the naming of this school.”

It’s a change of heart for Apex, which had passed a resolution backing the school board’s initial decision to name the school West Apex High. The school board would still need a new vote to rescind its previous decision.

Raleigh area rated safe

Raleigh leaders are touting another national ranking for the city: No. 2 for the “safest feeling” city in the country.

A recent Gallup poll asked residents of 50 major cities whether they “felt comfortable walking alone in their community at night.” With 78 percent of respondents saying yes, Raleigh came in just behind Minneapolis-St. Paul.

But there’s a catch: The ranking isn’t for the city itself, it’s for the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan statistical area, which includes suburban communities of Wake County as well as Johnston and Franklin counties. Still, Raleigh (and its neighbors) can bask in the knowledge they beat the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord area, where only 68 percent of residents feel safe walking at night.

Pleased with ABC store bill

Wanda Boone, founder of the nonprofit Durham Together for Resilient Youth, is pleased with a bill to restrict fortified alcohol sales to ABC stores.

“These products are highly attractive to youth consumers,” Boone said in a prepared statement Friday, adding that convenience stores are a major source for youngsters obtaining high-alcohol drinks.

House Bill 782, introduced by House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes, a Republican from Caldwell County, and co-sponsored by Democrat Rep. Paul Luebke of Durham, mandates ABC-store-only sales for fortified malt beverages and fortified wine. The bill passed its first reading Thursday in the House committee on rules, calendar and operations.

“There is no safer place for these beverages than our North Carolina ABC stores,” Boone said. “Additionally, these products put our low-wealth communities in great harm. These communities that already have high concentrations of alcohol outlets … do not need these dangerous alcoholic products on every street corner, worsening the myriad problems.”

Political trails

• John Maron, director of the Investors Education Program of the Department of State’s Securities Division will speak to the Wake County Senior Democrats on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue. A Dutch lunch will begin at 11 a.m. with the program following. The meeting is open to the public.

• State Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin will speak to the Wake County Republican Women’s Club on Thursday at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Social begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the lunch/program at 11:45 a.m. Lunch is $19 at the door. Pay by mail, P.O. Box 30454, Raleigh 27622, or online at www.wakerepublicanwomen.org. Make reservations by emailing 1wcrwc@gmail.com by Monday.

• U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Greg Brannon will be the guest speaker at the April meeting of the Harnett Republican Men's Club on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m. in room 149 of the Lundy Fetterman School of Business at Campbell University in Buies Creek. For more information, contact club president Joey Powell at 910-892-0201.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Jim Wise.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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