Triangle Politics: A weekly look at the local political scene

TriPol: Raleigh mayor using mobile ad to build campaign buzz

From staff reportsSeptember 20, 2013 

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is turning to a unique advertising strategy for her re-election bid: rickshaws and Instagram.

While other contenders in this fall’s council races are relying on weekly mailings, McFarlane is running an ad on one of the Crank Arm Rickshaws that pedals around downtown Raleigh.

And to build a buzz for the roving “Welcome to Raleigh” mayoral ads, McFarlane is running a contest on the photo-sharing website Instagram. She’s asking anyone who spots the rickshaw to take a picture and post it to the site with the hashtag #McFarlane2013.

Everyone who does will be entered into a drawing to win tickets to her next fundraiser – a bluegrass concert with the Kruger Brothers set for Wednesday at The Stockroom downtown. For those who don’t win, tickets to the event start at $50.

Meanwhile, District B council candidate Brian Fitzsimmons turned to some local political star power for his fundraiser Wednesday at Zinda restaurant. Former mayor and potential 2016 gubernatorial candidate Charles Meeker was the guest of honor, backing Fitzsimmons over incumbent John Odom.

Bonds ‘vital to the community’

The Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association now calls passage of the $810 million Wake County school construction bond issue “vital to the community” after having threatened this summer to fight it.

As late as July, the Rev. Earl Johnson, president of the RWCA, said “we’ll do everything within our power to prevent the passage of a school construction bond.” The group, which has represented Raleigh’s black community since 1932, was concerned that the General Assembly would turn over school construction authority in Wake to the County Board of Commissioners.

But the bill was defeated, keeping school construction in the hands of the school board. In a press release late Thursday, Johnson said the bonds would address the county’s “continual growth” and are “an opportunity that our citizens cannot afford to ignore.”

The group also announced it is backing the $75 million Raleigh transportation bond issue and released endorsements for the Wake County school board and Raleigh municipal races.

The RWCA is backing school board member Tom Benton in District 1, Monika Johnson Hostler in District 2, and school board member Bill Fletcher in District 9. The group did not give an endorsement in District 7.

The RWCA backed incumbents in Raleigh, including Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Mary Baldwin and Russ Stephenson for the City Council at-large seats, Randy Stagner for District A, Eugene Weeks for District C, Thomas Crowder for District D, and Bonner Gaylord for District E.

The group didn’t issue an endorsement in District B.

A roast for Chilton

Outgoing Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton is getting a roast Oct. 29 at the town’s Century Center.

The question is whether town taxpayers should help foot the bill.

The Board of Aldermen is considering giving $2,500 to the event, which is also a fundraiser for Empowerment Inc., an affordable housing agency where Chilton works.

Chilton asked aldermen to nix an agenda item from Tuesday’s meeting that would have given the money to Empowerment Inc. to help fund the fete.

“I appreciate the thought, but I wasn’t really comfortable with the proposal,” he said, “so I’m going to ask to have the agenda item pulled.”

Not so fast, said his colleagues, some of whom noted the money would help buy $50 tickets for people who could not otherwise afford to attend.

Chilton left the Town Hall meeting room during the discussion.

Town Manager David Andrews told aldermen the amount would offset the estimated costs in food and facilities that the town would spend giving Chilton its own send-off.

The board put off voting on the matter until its next meeting.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui, and correspondent Tom Hartwell

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