The next round of city elections is shaping up as new competitors and familiar faces jump into the fray.
Councilman Wayne Maiorano confirmed Friday that he would run for a second term in District A. At the same time, an old rival – former councilman Randy Stagner – announced that he will either challenge Maiorano or enter a city-wide race for an at-large seat.
Stagner held off on making his announcement until Maiorano entered the race. The two have a history: They faced off in 2013, when Maiorano unseated Stagner by just 250 votes.
Maiorano is registered as a Republican and Stagner a Democrat, but the elections are nonpartisan. Stagner lost amid acrimony about the firing of former city manager Russell Allen.
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Maiorano says he has conquered a steep learning curve. He has made a point of answering constituent emails and hosting town hall-style forums and has become more vocal in recent meetings. Now he wants to pursue a deeper agenda for his North Raleigh district and the city, he said.
“First, I would tell you that it’s tough to accomplish meaningful impact in a two-year term – and the first two years, candidly, have been a ton of learning,” he said.
He said that he hopes to refine the city’s vision of its future; create a better economic development strategy; improve the city’s handling of stormwater and flooding, and transform Moore Square downtown.
The city is just beginning to plan the future of the square as a modern urban park.
“I believe it’s going to be the single-most important financial investment we make in our downtown in the near term,” said Maiorano, referring to the next 10 to 24 months.
Off with a bang
Stagner started his campaign with criticism of two sitting council members, moving to establish himself as a champion of the little guys.
“At the urging of friends and supporters, I intend to run for re-election to the Raleigh City Council,” he wrote in an email.
Stagner argues that Maiorano is tied to developers too closely, forcing him to recuse himself from many votes. Maiorano is an attorney who works in development and construction, and his firm often works with locally prominent groups such as Kane Realty and the design firm Kimley-Horn.
“Wayne Maiorano is on track to miss an unprecedented 100 votes in one two-year term,” Stagner wrote. “At-large councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin is second on that inauspicious list.”
Baldwin is vice president of communications and business development for a construction company. No records showing her or Maiorano’s total number of missed votes were immediately available.
Stagner and others have argued that missed votes hamper council members’ effectiveness. Stagner also used the missed votes to link Baldwin and Maiorano with the development community; developer influence has long been a bone of contention in local politics.
“Most of their missed votes are tied to developer interests,” wrote Stagner, a retired U.S. Army colonel. “I have been and will continue to be an advocate for our neighborhoods and the citizens of Raleigh.”
Maiorano, a U.S. Marine who left active duty as a captain, estimated that he has recused himself from about 25 issues and that he has cast more than 1,000 votes.
Three of those issues pertained to District A and an “overwhelming majority,” he said, were approved unanimously.
Baldwin said she had recused herself from votes on certain projects, such as Union Station, that involve her employer.
“Obviously, we have a mechanism in place to do that, to avoid any conflicts,” she said. “If you work in this town you’re going to have conflicts on occasion.”
Who else is running?
With Maiorano’s entrance, only one sitting council member hasn’t announced her campaign. Councilwoman Kay Crowder said she will make an announcement next week. Councilman Eugene Weeks is running but hasn’t scheduled a formal kick-off event.
Corey Branch already has said that he will challenge Weeks in District C, while DeAntony Collins plans to run against Councilman Bonner Gaylord in District E.
The election is Oct. 6. Candidates may file from July 6 to July 17 for a place on the ballot.